Californian Pleads Guilty in $13 million Fraud

ATLANTA (AP) - A California man has pleaded guilty in Atlanta's
federal court for his part in a plot to defraud a prison construction firm out of almost $13 million.

Howard A. Sperling of San Diego entered the guilty plea Monday to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He could received up to 20 years in prison when sentenced April 30.

Federal prosecutors say the 44-year-old Sperling and two others conspired to defraud Cornell Corrections of California Inc., which
operates 71 private corrections facilities in 15 states.

In 2003, Cornell was hired to build a prison in Canon City, Colo., and the $13 million purchase price was to be placed in escrow until completion. Cornell was induced to transfer the money to an Atlanta account, and most of it was then diverted.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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