MIAMI (CBS4) — A West Palm Beach man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for his role in a $1.3 million precious metals investment fraud scheme.

A Miami federal judge imposed the sentence on 38-year-old Richard Engel. Engel also was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution to victims in the case.

Court documents show that Engel was a broker involved in a company called Bullion Trading Group that solicited investors to put money in gold, silver, palladium and other precious metals.

Investors then were subjected to “margin calls” with brokers telling them they needed to put down more money because equity in their accounts had dropped, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors say no such investments were made and that Engel and the others kept the money for themselves.

Others were charged back in December of 2010 as well, including the head of The Bullion Trading Group-Christopher A. Kertatos, of Orlando; Robert Michael Henry of West Palm Beach; and Richard W. Lutz of Henderson, Tenn.–each were charged with a count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Kertatos was indicted on an additional seven mail fraud charges while the brokers each faced at least one mail fraud count.

A mail fraud charge can carry up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Engel pleaded guilty earlier to mail fraud conspiracy. Another defendant who pleaded guilty is to be sentenced next week.

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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