A Newport Beach man was found guilty Tuesday by a federal jury for his role in a scheme aimed at defrauding wealthy investors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

William J. Ferry, 70, along with Dennis J. Clinton, 64, of San Diego were found guilty in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana of attempting to defraud a wealthy investor of $1 billion.

Ferry acted as an underwriter in the scheme, according to a statement from the DOJ.

In reality, the investor was part of an undercover FBI sting operation.

Evidence at trial found that from February 2006 to December 2006, Ferry was involved in a fraud scheme that promised a high return at little to no risk, according to the DOJ statement.

Ferry and his partners told investors that the investment program was overseen by the Federal Reserve Bank and claimed it was started to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief and other humanitarian efforts, according to authorities.

Ferry was found guilty on one count of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud. At his Feb. 1 sentencing he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each fraud count.

— Brittany Woolsey

Twitter: @TheDailyPilot