A Hollywood honcho involved in such flicks as “A Private War” and “Serenity” was busted Friday for allegedly bilking investors out of millions of dollars to splurge on his Beverly Hills manse — and swiping coronavirus-relief funds to pay off his car and credit debt.
William Sadleir, who helped found the film production and distribution company Aviron Pictures, posed as a woman at one point to carry out a scheme, according to Manhattan federal prosecutors.
Sadleir was hit with two counts of wire fraud and one count of identity theft for his role in two ploys to siphon off more than $20 million from his production company, the feds said.
In one of the schemes, Sadleir, 66, set up a fake company based in New York and transferred $25 million that had been invested in Aviron as part of an advertising deal, according to court documents.
Sadleir used a large portion of that sum as his personal piggy bank, spending nearly $14 million of it on an estate in Beverley Hills, prosecutors charged.
He then told his investor, a New York-based fund, that he had $27 million in advanced payments for advertisements involving future Aviron films that could be used as collateral for additional loans, according to the complaint. The advanced payments did not exist, the feds said.
Part of the ruse allegedly involved Sadleir posing as a woman from the fake New York company to exchange e-mails with the investors.
In the second scheme, he used the forged signature of one of his investors to illegally refinance and sell assets worth $3 million, according to prosecutors.
In another more recent ruse, Sadleir applied for a $1.7 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program last month that would be guaranteed by the Small Business Association, prosecutors in California said.
Sadleir said the loan would be used to pay employees at Aviron — where he was no longer working — and when the loan was approved, he began funneling the money into his personal accounts to pay off a car and credit-card debt, the feds said.
He was hit with additional fraud charges in California for that alleged scheme.
“Thanks to the dedicated work of our law-enforcement partners at the FBI, Sadleir will be held accountable for his behind-the-scenes misdeeds,” United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
A lawyer for Sadleir could not be reached.