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

The jury on Thursday found 54-year-old Arthur John Schlecht of Boone, N.C., guilty 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.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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