Kansas City, Mo. Lynn McCarthy, the former chairman of J.C. Nichols Co., pleaded guilty Friday to a racketeering charge.
Two other former J.C. Nichols officials face trial in October and McCarthy is required to cooperate in those cases.
In return for McCarthy's plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining counts of a 12-count fraud indictment against him and to recommend that he receive a sentence of four years in prison.
Prosecutors have agreed to request a reduction in his sentence if McCarthy "continues to provide substantial assistance" to the government in its investigation of his two co-defendants.
McCarthy, who remained free on bond, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.
The indictment charged that McCarthy had defrauded J.C. Nichols, developer of the Country Club Plaza and many other properties, of more than $150 million.
McCarthy's lawyers said Thursday that their client decided to plead guilty against their advice.
"We will put it on the record before the judge that the plea is being entered contrary to the advice of all of Mr. McCarthy's counsel," said Curtis Woods, one of McCarthy's lawyers.
A guilty plea allows McCarthy to avoid what was expected to be a protracted trial beginning Oct. 29. His two co-defendants former J.C. Nichols chief financial officer Walter Janes and former J.C. Nichols lawyer Charles Schleicher still face trial on that date on most of the same charges.
Janes, 66, of Prairie Village, and Schleicher, 71, of Kansas City, Mo., have pleaded innocent to the charges.