Actor Zach Avery sentenced to 20 years in prison for Ponzi scheme
The actor was sentenced to pay 20 years in prison and ordered to pay a restitution of $230.3 million.
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Actor Zachary Horwitz, 35, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for running an elaborate $650 million Ponzi scheme centered on bogus movie distribution rights.
Horwitz, who worked under the name Zach Avery in films, defrauded hundreds of investors who thought their money would fund distribution rights to movies to be streamed through HBO and Netflix, according to the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office. Prosecutors say it's the largest Ponzi scheme in Hollywood history
Avery, known for his roles in low-budget horror films, managed to convince investors that the money was intended for deals, which turned out to be bogus, with HBO and Netflix.
According to his plea agreement with prosecutors, Horwitz tricked an Illinois investor into wiring $1.4 million in December 2018 for a bogus deal that purported to purchase certain international distribution rights for Active Measures, a real-life documentary exploring alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
According to documents filed in the case, Horwitz gave his victims copies of fabricated licensing and distribution agreements with forged or fictitious signatures. When his company, 1inMM Capital, began defaulting in 2019, Horwitz "doubled down on his lies," blamed the streaming platforms and produced forged emails with the addresses @hbo.com and @netflix.com to "appease" his investors into thinking their money was safe, prosecutors said.
In reality, the money went towards his exorbitant lifestyle, including the purchase of a $6 million home in Beverlywood and paying off previous investors, according to information provided by CBS Los Angeles.
U.S. District Judge Mark Scarsi ordered Horwitz to pay restitution of $230.3 million in addition to serving the sentence given in prison. The actor was arrested in April and pleaded guilty in October to securities fraud.