Beverly Hills resident William Sadleir, age 67, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in connection with his participation in two schemes relating to investments made by a New York-based investment fund in Aviron Pictures.
US Attorney Damian Williams said that Sadleir was the chairman and CEO of Aviron, which he oversaw from 2015 through December 2019, participating in the distribution of films that included:
- My All American (2015);
- Kidnap (2017);
- The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018);
- A Private War (2018);
- Destination Wedding (2018);
- Serenity (2019);
- After (2019).
While serving in that capacity, Sadleir admitted to participating in a pair of schemes tied to an approximately $75 million investment in the production company.
The first scheme involved Sadleir misappropriating millions of dollars from Aviron for more than $25 million through an advertising scam by creating a sham company based in New York that appeared legitimate.
Williams said that Sadleir then used a significant amount of that money to purchase a Beverly Hills home for approximately $14 million.
To facilitate the scheme, Sadleir lied about where the funds had gone, claiming they were used to promote future films, while pledging a portion of pre-paid media credits as collateral for additional loans.
As part of the scheme, Sadleir created a false identity of a New York-based woman he posed as named “Amanda Stevens,” who made false representations on his sham company’s behalf and assuring his creditors.
Prosecutors said that the second scheme involved Sadleir engineering the illicit and fraudulent sale and refinancing of assets worth over $3 million to secure funds for Aviron by using forged signatures of portfolio managers to remove certain liens on his business.
Williams said that Sadleir did so in order to sell or refinance the assets without the Fund’s consent, thus depriving its lender of its collateral on outstanding loans. Aviron ultimately defaulted on those loans.
When he is sentenced on Tuesday, May 10, Sadlier will face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
“William Sadleir used his talent for selling stories to con a New York investment fund out of over $30 million using a fake company, fake documents, and even a fake identity,” Williams said. “In a brazen plot that could be ripped from one of the films he distributed, Sadleir even made up a character that he named ‘Amanda Stevens,’ and masqueraded as her in an effort to get away with his fraud.
“We called a wrap on Sadleir’s scheming, and he now faces significant time in federal prison.”
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