Federal prosecutors in New York and California have accused a former movie business mogul of wire fraud, bank fraud, identity theft and making false statements to government investigators. The 66-year-old man was taken into custody without incident at his Los Angeles home on the morning of May 22 according to reports. He is best known for heading up Aviron Pictures during a time when the independent distributor was known for projects including “A Private War,” “Serenity” and “Destination Wedding.”
The former film executive’s bail has been set at $100,000. U.S. attorneys on both coasts say that he fraudulently obtained millions of dollars to fund his lavish lifestyle. He is accused of bilking his company’s primary investor out of more than $13 million by claiming that the funds would be used to promote upcoming releases. Prosecutors say that he actually spent the money on luxury cars, home and office remodeling projects and expensive furniture and artwork. The man is alleged to have concealed his activities by posing as a female employee of a sham company.
The charges in California are connected with an alleged scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program. The man is accused of obtaining PPP loans using entities that he was no longer associated with and increasing the size of the loans by submitting the names of workers who had been laid off months earlier. The man and his wife allegedly used the money to pay their living expenses, credit card bills and car loans.
Cases involving white collar crimes are often complex and difficult for juries to follow. When their clients are charged with fraud, embezzlement or bribery, experienced criminal defense attorneys may remind prosecutors of this challenge as they encourage them to take a more lenient position during plea negotiations. Attorneys could also point out mitigating factors such as a desire to make restitution and sincere regret.