authorities2aMaxwell Smith, a 69-year-old financial advisor and Fair Haven resident, pleaded guilty to fraud charges yesterday, admitting he stole at least $8 million from clients.

He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton on February 26. Meantime, he’s free on $1 million bail, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark.

Smith, who worked at Cantone Research in Tinton Falls until last April, admitted to Cooper that he set up a phony investment fund that purportedly had $300 million under management as a means of attracting investments from clients.

Using a made-up prospectus and other fake documents, Smith said he took in investments ranging in size from $25,000 to $300,000, none of which was used to finance any business. Instead, Smith spent the money, he said, which totaled between $8 million and $9 million.

There’s no mention in the press releaseĀ  of a civil lawsuit, reported last April, filed on behalf of a 93-year-Morris County old client, claiming that Smith swindled him out of $9 million. Also unmentioned is the French villa that Smith was said to have owned.

Here’s the USAO’s press release: smit1117-rel

Here are the specifics of the crimes Smith pleaded guilty to: information-smith