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2 Missouri men sentenced in mining operation scheme

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ST. LOUIS, MO (AP) _ A suburban St. Louis man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison and ordered to pay back $1.7 million to victims of a scheme that defrauded investors in a mining operation.

The U.S. Attorney’s office on Thursday announced the sentence for 45-year-old Cristopher Cristea of St. Charles, Missouri. He pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges earlier this year and was sentenced last week.

Meanwhile, a colleague, 45-year-old David Corey Tolle, was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation and ordered to pay back more than $500,000. He had pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

The men formed companies and solicited investors for exploration of gold, silver and other minerals through mining operations in the U.S. and Africa.

Authorities say much of the money was spent on personal items.