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Zachary Horwitz was sentenced Monday to 20 years in federal prison for running a massive Ponzi scheme that raised at least $650 million from investors in bogus Hollywood movie licensing deals.
The budding Los Angeles actor, who went by the name Zach Avery, was also ordered to repay more than $230.3 million.
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Prosecutors alleged that from 2014 to 2019, the 35-year-old obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for his film company, 1inMM Capital LLC, by falsely claiming the money would be used to buy the rights to distribution of films which would then be authorized. for distribution on streaming platforms, such as Netflix and HBO.
However, Horwitz continued to use some of the money to pay off previous investors in a classic Ponzi scheme, prosecutors said. He also used the funds to support a more lavish lifestyle that included a $6 million home, expensive cars and private jets.
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More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest friends and family members, lost about $230 million, authorities said.
Horwitz appeared in several films, usually in smaller roles. He pleaded guilty in October to one count of securities fraud after his arrest in April 2021.
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“Defendant Zachary Horwitz has described himself as a Hollywood success story,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said. “He presented himself as an industry player who through his company … leveraged his relationships with online streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights to a regular price… But, as his victims learned, [Horwitz] was not a successful businessman or Hollywood insider. He just played one in real life.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.