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The president of a Northern California financial firm has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in an investment scam that bilked more than 300 people out of roughly $40 million.

Federal prosecutors in Sacramento say Anthony Vassallo and his associates collected about $80 million, returning half to clients to lull them into thinking they were getting a good return on their investment.

The 33-year-old Folsom man pleaded guilty Friday. He could face 16 years in prison under a plea agreement when he is sentenced May 3.

His Equity Investment Management and Trading Inc. promised investors risk-free, 36 percent annual returns, but he put their money into high-risk investments and personal luxuries, including a $103,000 Lexus for his wife.

Investigators say he met many of his victims through the Mormon church.

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