URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A California business owner made his first court appearance in Urbana on Thursday to face federal charges that accuse him of defrauding Central Illinois investors out of millions of dollars.

Brett Bartlett, 37 of Fountain Valley, Calif., was arraigned on charges wire fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud and money laundering during his court appearance. He pleaded not guilty and was released from custody on conditions of bond.

Bartlett was indicted earlier this month by a grand jury. Prosecutors said that before 2020, Barlett overstated the success of his two companies and failed to disclose their struggles while accepting money from unknowing investors. Prosecutors also said that Bartlett used their investments for his own benefit.

Approximately 1,000 people are said to have invested more than $20 million into Bartlett’s companies, including 50 from Central Illinois. Prosecutors added that in May of 2020, these investors got checks in the mail from Bartlett that totaled millions of dollars, but the checks bounced.

A trial date for Bartlett was set for Aug. 1 in Urbana.