The owner and operator of Edina-based financial adviser and real estate investment firms has been charged with wire fraud after allegedly cheating investors out of $1.6 million and using the money to buy property in the city.

Kristi M. Berge, 47, was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis in connection with the alleged scheme that ran from mid-2020 to early 2023.

Berge was charged with one count of wire fraud in what is called an information, meaning she intends to plead guilty. Messages were left with her and her attorney, Joe Friedberg, seeking comment. She is due in court on March 7.

According to the charging document:

Berge managed client investment portfolios through Keep Safe Investments, also known as KSI Financial. She also co-owned and operated J&K Connect, which bought, renovated and resold properties.

Starting in June 2020 and continuing until February 2023, she stole roughly $1.6 million from her clients' accounts, including retirement investments maintained by a company in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Berge withdrew amounts ranging from $5,000 to $220,000 without the Texas company's knowledge and moved them to a KSI bank account. She then used the money to buy properties in Edina for her real estate business. She also used the money to buy a residence in the city for a family member.

Berge disguised her thefts by labeling the withdrawals as payments for management or administrative fees and created false authorization records. In one instance, she appended a client's signature to an authorization document and forged a notary public's signature.

The charging document calls on Berge to forfeit six properties in Edina: three condominiums in two buildings on S. York Avenue and homes in the 5200 block of Danens Drive, 6300 block of Josephine Avenue and the 6400 block of Wilryan Drive. The combined value of the residences is more than $1.7 million, according to Hennepin County property records.

Berge's home in Edina, which is not among the six properties, has an estimated value of more than $650,000.