LOS ANGELES – An aspiring actor was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Monday for running a massive Ponzi scheme that raised at least $ 650 million from investors in phony Hollywood film licensing deals.
Zachary Horwitz, 35, of Los Angeles, was also ordered to repay more than $ 230.3 million.
Prosecutors alleged that from 2014 to 2019, Horwitz secured hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for his film company, 1inMM Capital LLC, by falsely claiming the money would be used to buy distribution rights to movies that would then be licensed for distribution to streaming platforms such as Netflix and HBO.
Instead, Horwitz used some of the money to repay earlier investors in a classic Ponzi scheme and to support a lifestyle that included buying a $ 6 million home, prosecutors said.
More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest college friends and their family members, lost about $ 230 million, authorities said.
Previously:Actor Zach Avery pleads guilty in a $ 650 million Ponzi scheme, could face up to 20 years in prison
He pleaded guilty last October to a federal charge of securities fraud. The US attorney’s office said at the time that he could face up to 20 years in prison.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced last April in a press release that it obtained an asset freeze against Horwitz and his company. According to the SEC’s complaint, he allegedly showed investors “fabricated email communications with representatives of HBO as well as false collections accounts allegedly showing funds available from HBO and Netflix for distribution.”
“We allege that Horwitz promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office in the release. “We obtained an asset freeze on an emergency basis to secure for the benefit of investors what remains of the money raised by Horwitz.”
Original story:Actor Zach Avery indicted on suspicion of running a $ 227 million Ponzi scheme
Horwitz was arrested April 6 on an initial fraud charge and he spent more than two weeks in jail before his release on a $ 1 million bond.
Representatives for Netflix and HBO denied at that time that their companies engaged in any business with Horwitz, according to an affidavit.
Horwitz had appeared in a number of movies, usually in small roles, under the name Zach Avery. His credits include low-budget features such as 2018’s “Trespassers” and 2021’s “The Devil Below.”