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An Ohio man will plead guilty in federal court to defrauding fellow Amish in 29 states out of nearly $17 million as part of a case the man's church had hoped to shield from publicity and outside involvement, the government said Tuesday.

The attorney for Monroe L. Beachy, 77, owner of A&M Investments in Sugarcreek, filed a recent notice informing federal court of his "intention to plead guilty as charged."

U.S. attorney's spokesman Mike Tobin confirmed the pending guilty plea. Beachy declined to comment Thursday, and his attorney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Beachy is accused in an indictment of promising investors safe securities but moving money to riskier investments. According to the indictment, nearly 2,700 people and entities, including an Amish community loan fund, lost about $16.8 million since 2006.

The investments directed by Beachy "were not the 'safe' investments as reported to his clients or investors," the indictment said.

Beachy, bearded with a shock of white hair, is a member of an Amish church near Sugarcreek.

He is charged with one count of mail fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors stopped short of saying whether Beachy had personally profited or just made bad investments but noted he had made a living for years offering investor services to the Amish.

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