SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – A former stockbroker now living in Holyoke has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme in which he recruited investors at country clubs and defrauded them out of nearly $3 million.

Lewis Hoff was charged Tuesday by federal presecutors with wire and investment fraud, money laundering and failure to file tax returns after backing out of a plea deal signed in March.

Authorities allege that the 48-year-old convinced 16 people to give him their money with promises of quick, high-interest returns.

Prosecutors say Hoff never invested the money, but deposited the funds in a personal account and claimed they were “profits” to attract new investors.

Hoff tells The Republican of Springfield that he backed out of the plea deal because “it wasn’t fair.”

Information from: The Springfield Republican, http://www.masslive.com/

AP-ES-04-22-09 1534EDT

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