- Associated Press - Saturday, March 1, 2014

MIAMI (AP) - A Florida jury has convicted a North Carolina man of operating fraudulent precious metals investment businesses that fleeced $25 million from investors.

The jury found 54-year-old Arthur John Schlecht of Boone, N.C., guilty Thursday of conspiracy and wire fraud charges. He faces a maximum 40-year prison sentence plus fines and restitution.

Evidence showed that Schlecht’s companies offered people the chance to invest in gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion that would be stored in vaults for them. In fact, trial testimony showed the companies never purchased any of the bullion in the names of the investors.

Testimony showed Schlecht spent millions of dollars for cars, maid services, home decorations, landscaping, jewelry, and to make payments to family members.

Prosecutors say there were hundreds of victims. Four other defendants pleaded guilty.