DETROIT -

A Detroit businessman is accused of stealing $3.1 million from a city pension fund.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit Monday which accuses former pension fund adviser Chauncey Mayfield and his firm, MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors, of stealing the money in 2008.

Read: SEC's complaint about Mayfield

The SEC wants Mayfield and four of his colleagues to repay the city the $3.1 million. Mayfield is accused of using the money to buy two strip malls in California. His colleagues are accused of helping him cover up the theft.

Mayfield, who faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted, is the first person to plead guilty in this investigation. He is cooperating with prosecutors.

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The money could have been used to pay retirement benefits for Detroit police officers, firefighters and their families.