“Yea!” Lakewood’s Patrick Peterson exclaimed at the end of a 45-minute federal court hearing for Shawn Merriman, the Aurora man accused of operating a Ponzi scheme that had bilked clients of roughly $20 million dollars since 1994. Peterson and his wife, Janenne Goehring, lost a “moderate six figures” to Merriman, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud, a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years. “Too bad they couldn’t sentence him right now,” Peterson tells The Denver Post. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 10, 2010, and Merriman—who used investors’ money to fund safari trips, an antique car collection, and rare art, including Rembrandts—faces a fine of up to $250,000 and could be ordered to pay restitution. In a plea agreement, Merriman admits to running a scheme that impacted 68 of his clients by telling them he was placing their money into securities when he was not, according to the Denver Business Journal. Merriman also confessed to his family and his church, which resulted in a divorce and an excommunication.