Financial planner pleads guilty to swindling clients out of at least $10 million

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An Eden Prairie financial planner admitted in federal court that he hatched a plan to cheat his clients out of at least $10 million by setting up a Ponzi scheme.

Sean Meadows pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud and money laundering. The Justice Department says Meadows, 41, convinced his victims to withdraw money from their retirement and savings accounts by promising investment returns of up to 10 percent.

But instead of investing the money, he set up the Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors say he swindled 50 clients in several states and used the money to pay for expenses that included credit card bills, a vehicle, travel to Las Vegas, gambling at casinos and online, and $100,000 in adult entertainment.

As WCCO reports, the fraud is said to have occurred over a period of seven years, ending last spring.

The Star Tribune reports some of Meadows' victims have reacted so emotionally to his crimes that armed guards were on hand for his guilty plea to protect him as he left court.

His attorney tells the newspaper Meadows was approached and threatened by one of his former clients after a previous hearing.

The victims include 65-year-old Susan Gosz, who says Meadows' scheme cost her all of the $200,000 in her retirement account and the money from a refinancing of her Golden Valley home, the Star Tribune reports.

No sentencing date was announced.

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips for selecting a financial planner.

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