Man charged with defrauding Seattle-area residents out of $5.8 million

SEATTLE -- A former Newcastle resident charged with defrauding Seattle-area residents and others of around $5.8 million while pretending to be a British billionaire, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.

The Seattle Times reports a plea agreement Thursday between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Keenan Gracey's defense calls for him to spend more than 12 years in prison.

Dozens in Washington and California gave Gracey as much as $745,000 for what he called "pre-IPO" stock in companies that had not gone public yet.

Prosecutors say he claimed to have millions of shares that would produce 60 times the investment when, in fact, he owned no such stock.

Tall, muscular and sporting a British accent, he collected almost $6 million over two years.

An investigation later revealed Gracey was from Canada.