Rowing Pictures founder and former chairman Williams Sadleir was arrested on Friday for involvement in a more than $ 30 million fraud scheme, according to the Justice Department.
He has since been released on $ 100,000 bond and will be housebound.
Sadleir is accused of embezzling millions of dollars in Aviron funds that had been invested in Aviron by a New York-based investment fund.
“He even went so far as to impersonate an employee of the fictitious New York-based company he created to continue his illegal activity,” FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a report. communicated. “Today’s arrest is a reminder of the FBI’s dedication to holding people accountable for egregious financial crimes of this nature.”
Sadleir has been charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The wire fraud charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
He has also been accused of fraudulently filing bank loan applications, seeking more than $ 1.7 million in repayable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act, according to the Ministry of Justice.
The Small Business Paycheck Protection Program is part of the CARES law that was passed on March 29. It was intended to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It authorized up to $ 349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job maintenance and certain other expenses, under the P3. In April, Congress authorized more than $ 300 billion in additional P3 funding.
Sadleir, who was ousted from the independent production company in January, is accused of obtaining more than $ 1.7 million in forgivable loans with the intention of using a significant portion of it for personal expenses and not business, including personal credit cards and a car loan.
“This film producer allegedly made a series of false statements to a bank and the Small Business Administration to illegally secure taxpayer money which he then used to fund his nearly empty personal bank account,” the US attorney said. Nick Hanna of the Central District of California in a statement. declaration. “The Paycheque Protection Program was implemented to help small businesses stay afloat during the financial crisis, and we will act quickly against those who abuse the program for their own personal gain. “
Sadleir used three entities he controlled to secure more than $ 1.7 million in loans under the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program. According to the Justice Department, requests it submitted to lenders indicated that the funds would be used for salary expenses and other specific expenses related to the business, such as utilities or rent payments.
According to the federal criminal complaint filed in the Central District of California, however, these certifications were false. The Justice Department said in a press release on Friday that as soon as Sadleir got the funds, he transferred more than half of the money to a personal bank account and started using and attempting to use the funds. funds to repay personal credit card debt totaling over $ 80,000. and a car loan totaling approximately $ 40,000, among other personal expenses.
“Today’s charges hold the accused accountable for his alleged actions to defraud money from a federal program intended to help those in need during a pandemic crisis,” the special agent said in charges Wade Walters of the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in a statement. “When an individual cheats the Paycheck Protection Program with money, it robs hard-working Americans and deserving small businesses. The FDIC OIG is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate financial crimes to preserve the integrity of the country’s banking sector.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report