A federal jury has convicted a former executive of a South Dakota company accused of defrauding investors in a scheme to build an $11 million fish farm.

The jury Monday found Timothy Burns of Brookings guilty of five charges of wire fraud for his role in soliciting investors for Global Aquaponics. He’ll be sentenced later.

Burns was the one-time chief operating officer of Global Aquaponics. The company sought investors to build an indoor fish farm and hydroponics facility in Brookings.

The trial lasted five days and the jury deliberated about four hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Construction on the fish farm never started. Investors who put a minimum of $25,000 each into the project lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Burns claimed he was the largest investor and also was a victim.

The federal prosecutor showed the jury evidence that Burns had deposited investor checks into an account for the project, only to transfer the money shortly afterwards to his own business accounts.

Businessman Tobias Ritesman earlier pleaded guilty to all 18 counts against him in the scheme. Ritesman also awaits sentencing.

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