Published: Jan 25, 2012 5:41 PM EST

MIAMI (AP) - A prominent Cuban-American businessman has pleaded guilty in Miami to fraud charges arising from a $135 million real estate scheme that fleeced hundreds of investors.
    
The victims include the Roman Catholic prep school that 73-year-old Gaston Cantens once attended. He faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to a single count of wire and mail fraud conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams set sentencing for April 4.
    
Federal prosecutors say Cantens operated his real estate company like a Ponzi scheme by paying older investors with money raised from newer ones. The company sold real estate investments in southwest Florida since 1993 but fell on hard times beginning in 2002. It was forced into bankruptcy in 2009.
    
Investigators say more than 150 investors lost some $47 million.

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