Investment adviser sentenced for scheme in St. Louis area

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ An investment adviser and former St. Louis pastor was sentenced to just over three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution after operating an investment fraud scheme.

Federal prosecutors say 53-year-old Mark Stafford, of O’Fallon, defrauded more than 30 people by promising returns up to 20 percent and creating false financial statements.

Stafford pleaded guilty on March to mail fraud and filing a false tax return. He admitted he committed the fraud while running the Stafford Financial Firm from at least March 2007 to July 2016.

He also didn’t file tax returns for 2011 and 2013 and understated his 2011 income by $150,000.

Stafford also was the founder and pastor of New Birth Power Plex Ministries in north St. Louis.