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Former sweetener company CEO pleads guilty to theft, fraud charges over failed Missouri plant

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ST. CHARLES, Mo. - The man who persuaded a rural Missouri town and the state to invest millions in bonds and incentives for an artificial sweetener plant that never materialized pleaded guilty Tuesday to three felony charges.

Bruce Cole pleaded guilty to two counts of securities fraud and one count of theft in state court. Sentencing is set for Nov. 3. Under the plea agreement, he faces 5 to7 years in prison.

Cole was CEO of Mamtek U.S. He convinced Moberly, Missouri, to issue $39 million in bonds for a plant Cole said would employ 600. The state authorized up to $17 million in incentives. The plan collapsed financially before construction finished.

Attorney General Chris Koster filed charges in 2012, accusing Cole of diverting at least $700,000 to forestall foreclosure of his California home.

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