CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP/WCBS 880) — A New York businessman has pleaded guilty to charges he orchestrated a $413 million Ponzi scheme that victimized thousands of clients.

Nicholas Cosmo pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud charges Friday. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 18.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall at the courtroom talking with victims of the scheme

Cosmo is the former head of the Long Island-based Agape World and Agape Merchant Advance in New York City. He was arrested in January 2009.

Investors believed they’d make returns as high as 80 percent a year from interest collected on short-term loans to businesses. But he admitted using much of the money for personal investments in commodities futures trading that later tanked. Prosecutors estimate investors lost more than $195 million.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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