- Associated Press - Friday, May 12, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York restauranteur has admitted to running a $12 million Ponzi scheme involving a fictitious wholesale liquor business in order to finance his lavish lifestyle.

Hamlet Peralta, the former owner of the Hudson River Cafe, pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Thursday, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Peralta has agreed to a plea deal, where prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 53 to 61 months in prison, though the judge will not be bound to the recommendation.

Prosecutors say Peralta misappropriated investments to pay for spas, expensive clothes and renovations to his restaurant.

Attorney Cesar de Castro, who represents Peralta, did not comment on the plea, but said they hope to show the judge why Peralta deserves a lowered sentence.

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