Guilty plea in $25 million real estate fraud 

A San Francisco real estate developer pleaded guilty Wednesday to a $25 million Ponzi scheme that victimized 80 investors, federal prosecutors said.

Maher Talal Muhawieh pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Muhawieh was charged last September with 12 counts of wire fraud. Federal prosecutors accused him of promising people their money would be used to buy and renovate residential properties in San Francisco, which would then be sold at a large profit.

Muhawieh actually used the money to pay interest on loans from other investors and for personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Under the plea deal, Muhawieh now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the total financial loss to the victims or gain to himself, plus restitution, at his sentencing March 7, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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