What You Need to Know
- Actor Zach Avery was sentenced to 240 months in prison and ordered to pay $230.4 million in restitution.
- He was convicted of falsely telling investors their money would be used to buy rights to films HBO and Netflix had agreed to distribute abroad.
- He pleaded guilty in October to one count of securities fraud.
Actor Zach Avery, whose real name is Zachary Joseph Horwitz, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Monday for operating a Ponzi scheme that raised at least $650 million with bogus claims that investor money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films HBO and Netflix purportedly agreed to distribute abroad, according to the Justice Department.
In addition to sentencing Horwitz, 35, of the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, to 240 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi, also ordered Horwitz to pay $230.4 million in restitution to his victims.
Attorney Ryan S. Hedges of Vedder Price’s Chicago office, and Anthony Pacheco, of the law firm’s Los Angeles office, who represented Horwitz, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Horwitz was arrested in April and a criminal complaint charged him with wire fraud, a crime that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
‘Fabricated Agreements and Fake Emails’
The Securities and Exchange Commission also said in April that it obtained an asset freeze and other emergency relief in an emergency enforcement action against Horwitz and his company, 1inMM (one in a million) Capital LLC, for conducting the alleged Ponzi scheme.
The actor and 1inMM allegedly told investors they were buying film rights, purportedly to resell them to Netflix and HBO, according to the SEC’s complaint. In fact, 1inMM actually had no business relationship with either company.
From March 2014 until at least December 2019, Horwitz raised over $690 million from investors by selling promissory notes issued by 1inMM, “using fabricated agreements and fake emails” with Netflix and HBO, according to the SEC complaint.