ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Federal prosecutors are trying to convict Arizona local John Lopez for running a fraudulent investment program in New Mexico and other states. Wednesday, Lopez was brought before a federal judge in Albuquerque to begin legal proceedings.

Near the end of last year, a federal grand jury indicted Lopez. They allege he ran a fake investment scheme where he promised clients that he controlled an investment fund that could guarantee profits. Under that promise, he took millions of dollars from clients, according to the arraignment presented in federal court.

In about six years, he collected nearly $20 million, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). He did so through his company, Personal Money Management Company (PMMCO), which seemed to offer investment services for clients, including retired individuals.

In November, after the U.S. Marshals and the Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into the case, government agents seized PMMCO assets. Much of what they seized were precious metals, possibly purchased with the fraudulent funds, according to the DOJ.

If convicted of the charges, Lopez may face up to 20 years in prison. But first, the case must go to a trial. So far, Lopez has pleaded not guilty, according to a clerk’s minute sheet filed in federal court.