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Originally published Friday, November 19, 2010 at 6:01 PM

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Darren Berg pleads not guilty to federal fraud charges

Trial set for Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Frederick Darren Berg pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he ran a massive Ponzi scheme for nearly a decade that bilked investors out of more than $100 million.

Trial was set for Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Berg, a Mercer Island resident, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on 12 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud.

Prosecutors say Berg took in more than $280 million from investors for his Meridian Group of investment funds. But instead of investing the money in real-estate contracts — the funds' purported purpose — he used it instead to finance a luxurious lifestyle, operate a high-end charter-bus company, and pay back older investors with newer investors' funds, prosecutors say.

Berg was arrested Oct. 21 in Los Angeles, and has remained in custody since.

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