Kent Ahrens, a fired trader at First Capital Strategists investment advisers, pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud and agreed to pay a $182,000 penalty to settle charges he traded without approval from an institutional client.

The client, Common Fund, a manager of endowments for 1,400 colleges and universities, lost $137.6 million as a result of Mr. Ahrens' unauthorized trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

The guilty plea was entered to Justice Department charges filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa. Mr. Ahrens, 40, could face five years in prison.

He settled separate SEC charges by surrendering $182,000 in commissions on the improper trades and consenting to a permanent bar from the securities industry.

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