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Odessa man pleads guilty in $13M Facebook share case

NEW YORK — An Odessa investment adviser and onetime Oregon gubernatorial candidate cried as he pleaded guilty Tuesday in a $13 million securities fraud scheme that prosecutors say capitalized on enthusiasm for shares of Facebook and other Internet companies about to go public.

Craig L. Berkman, 71, entered the plea to securities fraud and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, agreeing to serve eight to 10 years in prison, according to the terms of a written agreement between Berkman and prosecutors. Otherwise, he would have faced up to 40 years in prison.

Berkman admitted that he falsely claimed to investors in December 2010 that he owned shares of Facebook Inc., Groupon Inc. and LinkedIn Inc., among other companies.

"I deeply regret my actions," a sobbing Berkman told a federal magistrate judge.

Berkman said he told investors their money would be used to buy shares of companies before their initial public offerings.

Prosecutors say he pocketed much of the $13.2 million he received from more than 120 investors during the scheme, which stretched from 2010 until his March 2013 arrest.

Berkman remains jailed pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 1.

Odessa man pleads guilty in $13M Facebook share case 06/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 10:44pm]
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