Federal prosecutors in New York have charged a former Hollywood film executive with multiple counts of wire fraud and a single count of identity theft for allegedly bilking investors out of about $30 million. The 66-year-old Los Angeles County resident is said to have spent the money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included a $14 million Beverly Hills mansion and a $127,000 Tesla luxury sedan. He could be sent to a federal prison for 42 years if he is convicted on all of the counts. The alleged fraud has also given rise to a civil action filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.
Investigators follow elaborate paper trail
During the course of the investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents determined that the man convinced a New York City-based investment fund that its $75 million investment would be used to purchase prepaid advertising credits. The man is said to have told the investment fund that the credits, which are known in the entertainment business as “up-fronts” would be used to promote upcoming films. The man is accused of taking about $14 million of the money to cover his personal expenses. U.S. attorneys also claim that the man set up a sham company to make the investment appear legitimate.
Fraudulent asset sales
The man is also accused of forging a portfolio manager’s signature in order to sell assets that had been protected by Uniform Commercial Code liens issued in 2017 and 2018. The assets, which included intellectual property related to motion pictures, had been used to secure a series of loans. These loans were defaulted on after the assets were fraudulently sold according to prosecutors.
Fighting federal white-collar crime charges
U.S. attorneys rarely pursue criminal cases without overwhelming evidence, which is why most federal cases involving white-collar crimes are resolved at the negotiating table and not in front of a jury. If you are facing embezzlement, fraud or bribery charges and would like to know more about your legal options, a criminal defense attorney with experience in this area could scrutinize the discovery materials to determine whether or not entering into a negotiated plea agreement would be wise.