The founder and former chairman of Aviron Pictures, Williams Sadleir was arrested on Friday on charges of involvement in a $30 million fraud scheme, the Department of Justice announced.
Sadleir, 66, is accused of misappropriating millions in funds from his film company. Sadleir has since been released on a $100,000 bond but will remain under house arrest.
“As alleged, William Sadleir orchestrated a massive fraud, embezzling approximately $14 million of investor funds from his film company to pay for a Beverly Hills estate, among other fraudulent acts,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Thanks to the dedicated work of our law enforcement partners at the FBI, Sadleir will be held accountable for his behind-the-scenes misdeeds.”
The former executive was charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Each wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, while the aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year jail term.
“Sadleir allegedly even went so far as to pose as a female employee of the sham New-York based company he created to further his illegal activity,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “Today’s arrest serves as a reminder of the FBI’s dedication to holding people accountable for egregious financial crimes of this nature.”
Among the charges claim that he recently filed fraudulent bank loan applications, asking over $1.7 million dollars in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act. The act, passed by Congress in March, was designed to provide emergency financial relief to businesses owners impacted by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna of the Central District of California explained:
This film producer allegedly made a series of misrepresentations to a bank and the Small Business Administration to illegally secure taxpayer money that he then used to fund his nearly empty personal bank account. The Paycheck Protection Program was implemented to help small businesses stay afloat during the financial crisis, and we will act swiftly against those who abuse the program for their own personal gain.
Over the past decade, the 66-year-old Hollywood mogul has overseen the distribution of a number of independent films across the United States, including My All American (2015), Kidnap (2017), The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018), A Private War (2018), Destination Wedding (2018), Serenity (2019), and After (2019).
Sadleir once worked as a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan before moving into the film industry. If convicted of all charges, he faces 82 years in prison.