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A federal grand jury has indicted an Orem man for allegedly operating a Ponzi scheme that brought in about $28 million from 250 investors.

Chad Roger Deucher, 43, is charged in U.S. District Court with 18 counts of wire fraud and one count of fraud in the sale of securities. About 170 of the total investors lost about $16 million, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Howell's attorney did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Deucher allegedly promised returns of up to 22 percent — and monthly interest rates as high as 12 percent — to entice investors into his company, Marquis Properties, which he claimed was staffed by experienced property professionals who invested in buying and fixing up high quality properties that generated cash flow.

Deucher allegedly used real estate and retirement seminars, plus radio advertisements, direct solicitations and a website to reach potential investors, the indictment states.

He allegedly pitched various rates of returns "based on his need for money and what he believed would induce the investor to invest in his company," according to prosecutors.

But Deucher failed to disclose that property Marquis offered as collateral was not owned by the company and was encumbered with other obligations, nor did he disclose that it was insolvent and that payments to investors were coming from new investors, the indictment says.

He also allegedly failed to disclose that he diverted several million dollars of investors funds for personal use.

Deucher and Richard Clatfelter of Arizona, the Marquis executive vice president, were sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in January.

The lawsuit alleged Deucher sent $376,000 of investors' funds to an account controlled by his wife and used $84,320 from an investor for a mortgage on his personal residence.

Deucher is to make an initial appearance on the criminal charges in federal court on May 26. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million.