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July 13, 1996|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Malibu Businessman Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme: John Hall, 49, formed a venture that took over Towers Financial Corp., a failed health-care financing and bill-collection business that had defrauded thousands of people, with the promise of increasing the company's remaining assets. The hope was that the 6,000 or so Towers creditors could ultimately collect more cash than they would get from a simple liquidation of the business. Instead, according to a federal complaint, Hall and others used the venture to pay themselves "substantial amounts of money." Hall is accused of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, mail and wire fraud and money laundering. He entered his plea in federal court in New York. He faces up to 65 years in prison, fines of $2.25 million and an order to pay restitution. A sentencing hearing was set for Nov. 6.

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