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Accountant Pleads in $45 Million Scam

A accountant in US pleaded guilty Monday to two federal charges resulting from an alleged scheme in which an investment firm falsely claimed ties to Italian royalty to defraud investors of nearly $45 million, prosecutors said.

Richard Glenn Dunham, 56, of Corona del Mar, Calif., entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer to charges of mail fraud and helping prepare false tax returns for the now-defunct DFJ Italia.

Dunham, who owns RDA Financial Corp., is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 18, the U.S. attorney's office said in a statement. He faces up to eight years in federal prison.

Prosecutors claim Dunham allowed Irvine, Calif.-based DFJ to falsely portray him as a certified public accountant who would vouch for the financial integrity of the investments. He provided the company a letter saying DFJ was a “safe investment” that provided large returns, even though he had not conducted any financial review of the investment, officials allege.

Authorities allege that starting in 1996, DFJ lured investors by boasting the firm had ties to Italian royalty and connections to the European economic community. Those duped include professional athletes including former Los Angeles Rams football players Eric Dickerson and Duval Love.

The firm was forced into bankruptcy in March 2000. The alleged scam cost more than 200 investors nearly $45 million overall, officials said.

Previously, Stephen A. Ceparano, 63, a certified public accountant from Northport, N.Y., pleaded guilty to several charges in connection with the case. He is expected to be sentenced later this year.

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