PHILADELPHIA >> A formerly licensed Wayne stockbroker with two prior securities-fraud related convictions pleaded guilty to his third Wednesday in federal court, according to a release from U.S. Attorney William McSwain.

“This habitual fraudster manipulated the markets to further his own self-interest,” said McSwain in the release. “Today, thanks to the hard work and diligence of the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York office, and our office, the defendant’s crimes landed him in jail, which is where he belongs.”

Howard M. Appel, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud under a criminal information filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania last month and was ordered detained by District Judge Paul S. Diamond pending sentencing.

Appel pleaded guilty in 2004 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in New York, according to a separate civil complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was incarcerated in that case from June 2008 through June 2010 and was on supervised release until June 2013.

Appel was barred from selling securities or associating with any member firm by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, but used the names of nominees to secretly acquire large blocks of stock in publicly traded companies, including Virtual Piggy Inc. and Red Mountain Resources Inc., according to prosecutors.

Appel admitted that he and coconspirators took several steps to manipulate stock prices of these companies, including coordinated buying and selling of shares and trading on insider information Appel was privy to as a paid “consultant.”

Prosecutors estimated Appel earned between $3 million and $4 million over the course of the scheme. He faces a maximum five years of incarceration at sentencing, set for Nov. 26, as well as a three-year period of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and a $100 special assessment.

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