Former Hollywood movie CEO charged with $30M fraud

Lawrence Kim
May 23, 2020

Federal authorities on Friday arrested a Beverly Hills film producer on fraud charges after he allegedly paid off his personal credit cards using federal loans meant to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic.

A Hollywood honcho involved in such flicks as "A Private War" and "Serenity" was busted Friday for allegedly bilking investors out of millions of dollars to splurge on his Beverly Hills manse - and swiping coronavirus-relief funds to pay off his auto and credit debt.

Sadleir, arrested by federal agents Friday morning, could not be reached for comment and did not have an attorney listed in court documents.

Prosecutors said he then created a sham company to hide his use of the money, and assumed the fake identity "Amanda Stevens" to communicate by email with the BlackRock fund about its investment.

He then told his investor, a New York-based fund, that he had $27 million in advanced payments for advertisements involving future Aviron films that could be used as collateral for additional loans, according to the complaint.

Officials from multiple federal agencies involved in the investigation condemned what they said was Sadleir's misuse of a program meant to help people, at a time when many employees in the film and other industries are in need of assistance.

Sadleir faces two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in NY, as well as wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution and lying to the Small Business Administration in Los Angeles.

The BlackRock fund had $574 million of assets as of May 21, and normally invests most assets in debt and loans.

Prosecutors said William Sadleir, 66, diverted much of the $1.7 million of loans he received on May 1 from the Paycheck Protection Program for personal expenses.

Aviron's films have included Halle Berry's "Kidnap" and Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway's "Serenity".

To keep up the ruse, FBI Asst.

According to NY prosecutors, Sadleir told an unnamed investor that he had transferred $27 million from the studio to buy advertising time.

Sadleir faces up to 124 years in prison if convicted on all charges. In a separate case, the Securities and Exchange Commission also accuses Sadleir of violating antifraud provisions of securities laws.

While the investor has not been directly identified, the case cites allegations of fraudulent lien releases brought up in the December 2019 lawsuit by BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust.

He then "used the misappropriated money to support his lavish lifestyle, including cash withdrawals and the purchases of a luxury vehicle and a mansion in Beverly Hills", the lawsuit said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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