Businessman pleads guilty in aquaponics investment scheme

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A South Dakota businessman accused of defrauding investors in a scheme to build an $11 million fish farm has pleaded guilty to wire and mail fraud.

Tobias Ritesman entered the plea to 18 fraud counts in a federal courtroom Thursday afternoon. He was scheduled for trial next week. Ritesman is facing a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, plus possible restitution.

Ritesman and his agents began soliciting money from investors in 2016 for Global Aquaponics in Brookings, an indoor seafood farm that would also grow organic vegetables. Ritesman used the funds from investors for his own purposes rather than on the aquaponics development.

A second defendant in the case, Brookings businessman Timothy Burns, is still scheduled for trial next week.

AP-WF-04-19-19 1147GMT

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