Zachary Horwitz, the actor who was arrested in April for allegedly scamming investors out of millions of dollars for fake movie deals with HBO and Netflix, has agreed to plead guilty to running the elaborate Hollywood Ponzi scheme, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The 34-year-old, who goes by the stage name Zach Avery and has starred in low-budget horror and science-fiction movies, admitted in court documents that he conned upward of 250 investors into giving him more than $650 million for the fictitious deals through his film company, 1inMM Capital, LLC.
Horwitz’s agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles states that he will plead guilty to one count of securities fraud at a hearing on October 4, the Times reports, although prosecutors indicated that they plan to ask U.S. District Attorney Judge Mark C. Scarsi to impose a heftier sentence due to the massive amount of money allegedly Horwitz finagled. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Horwitz, who appeared in the recent horror movies You’re Not Alone and The Devil Below, admitted in the agreement that for seven years he falsely told investors that his film company was buying foreign distribution rights to movies, then licensing them to Netflix, HBO, or other platforms to stream online in other countries.
As Newsweek reports, he confessed to collecting “loans” ranging from $35,000 to $1.5 million per film deal, and promised that he would repay them within a year with a return of 25 to 45 percent. He also admitted that the distribution and licensing contracts were forged, according to the agreement.
Horwitz actually paid back some of his debt, but only to dupe investors into giving him more money, which funded a swanky lifestyle, allowing him to travel by private jet and purchase a $5.7 million Beverlywood house with a gym, screening room, and wine cellar, the Times reports.
Horwitz allegedly used the real names of studio executives at the distributors to create fake emails and storylines to justify delays on repayments. But he admitted to not paying back at least $231 million.
More than 250 investors were roped into Horwitz’s devious Ponzi scheme, including old friends and their family members. But it all started to crumble in 2019 when Horwitz was unable to meet investors’ demands for repayment, which resulted in a lawsuit that alerted Netflix to this situation, the Times reports.
Since Horwitz’s Ponzi scheme has come to the light, his wife, Mallory Horwitz, has reportedly filed for divorce, claiming in court documents that she knew nothing of her husband’s plan and that he has been “deceiving and manipulating me and everyone around him, and he is not the person that I believed he was,” Newsweek reports.
Horwitz was originally indicted in May on five counts of securities fraud, six counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. But if he goes through with the plea deal for the single fraud charge, the others will be dismissed.
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