The agency said the nine have been charged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

On June 10, a federal grand jury returned a 49-count indictment against Brian Rose, a.k.a. John Hankins, of Johnson City, Tennessee; Robert McGregor, a.k.a. Jim Robinson III, of Bowling Green, Kentucky; Dallas McRae of Orlando, Florida; Hugh Sackett of Anderson, South Carolina; James Robinson of Perkin, Indiana; Brent Loveall of Johnson City, Tennessee; Jason Smith of Bowling Green, Kentucky; Ray Spears, a.k.a. Brock Hamilton, of Johnson City, Tennessee; and Jennifer Key of Louisville, Kentucky.

In addition, Rose as well as McGregor, McRae, Sackett, Robinson, Loveall, Spears, and Key were all charged with substantive mail and/or wire fraud charges.

According to the indictment, the center of the circle was Rose, who established an office for New Century Coal in Johnson City and subsequently hired the eight others to find investors from across the U.S. In all, the group — which used false and fraudulent representations to collect the funding — targeted an estimated 160 investors.

Five members of the group appeared for initial court appearances and arraignments between June 16 and 19, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Three more will appear in court on June 30 for their respective initial appearances and arraignments.

Alleged scheme-runner Rose appeared in court on June 23 for a detention hearing and was detained pending trial.

If convicted, all face a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, as well as a term of supervised release of at least three years. All also face mandatory court assessments and restitution as ordered by the court.

The indictments stem from an investigation by the United States Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division and Federal Bureau of Investigation.