The Freeland File
Aerospace & Defense
Global Market Data
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Free fall to Earth
Felix Baumgartner jumps from a balloon near the edge of space, setting a record for the highest skydive and breaking the sound barrier in the process. Learn More
U.S. economists win Nobel for applying match-making
In second debate, Obama faces challenges on key issues
14 Oct 2012
Japan's Softbank snaps up Sprint in $20 billion deal
Rolling Stones to play four gigs, Jagger hints at more
Tea Party versus Agenda 21: Saving the U.S. or just irking it?
Democrats frustrated by Obama’s ”Big Bird” campaign turn
Biden and Ryan in high-stakes election debate
Jobless claims fall to lowest in four and a half years
New York businessman charged in elaborate fraud over Broadway's "Rebecca"
By Chris Francescani
NEW YORK |
Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:12am EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York businessman who allegedly created a cast of fictional characters to help finance a $12 million Broadway rendition of "Rebecca: The Musical" was arrested on Monday and charged with defrauding the play's producers.
Businessman Mark Hotton "faked lives, faked companies and even staged a fake death, pretending that one imaginary investor had suddenly died of malaria," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Hotton was charged with two counts of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison for each count in convicted.
Hotton portrayed himself as an 11th-hour hero after the play had fallen nearly $5 million short of funding earlier this year. He told the show's producers he could raise the cash - and appeared to deliver with new investors from England who, Bharara said, actually were a quartet of "deep pocketed phantoms."
Hotton allegedly fabricated email addresses and investor websites to convince the play's producers that he had raised the cash, and in return received more than $60,000 in commissions and fees.
But the "investors" were never available to meet the producers or speak by phone, and when producers began pressing Hotton for the promised cash over the summer, Hotton "orchestrated the false illness, hospitalization and untimely 'death'" of one of the phony investors, Bharara said.
That was just the first act of multiple deceptions, Bharara said. Hotton then claimed to have flown to London in August to meet with a mysterious executor known as "Wexler" representing the dead man's estate to ensure the financing would still come through. Prosecutors say Hotton never left the United States.
By September, Hotton had promised to broker a $1.1 million loan from a real estate company and put up his own property as collateral to ensure the show would go on. The real estate company and its principals were also fictional, Bharara said.
Hotton's attorney, Gerald Shargel, was not immediately available for comment.
The show had been slated to make its Broadway debut this fall, but has been postponed because of the financing shortfall and scandal. A German-language version of the musical, based on a 1938 Daphne du Maurier novel, debuted in 2006 in Vienna, Austria. It has never made the transition to London or Broadway.
A 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation of "Rebecca," starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, won an Academy Award for best picture.
(Editing by Will Dunham)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.