Six charged with bilking investors in phony movies


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Six Southern California men have been
charged with stealing millions of dollars by offering investments in
phony movies with names like "The Smuggler" that supposedly featured
well-known actors such as Donald Sutherland, federal authorities said
The men were charged with fraud in two federal grand
jury indictments and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted,
prosecutors said.
Arrested Thursday were Samuel Braslau, 53, of
Los Angeles and Rand Jay Chortkoff, 64, of Los Angeles, who co-founded
the company Mutual Entertainment LLC (later renamed Film Shoot LLC),
along with an alleged salesman, Stuart Rawitt, 47, of West Hollywood,
prosecutors said.
Braslau pleaded not guilty Thursday, said his attorney, Anne Hwang.
Rawitt pleaded not guilty several weeks ago, said his attorney, Bernard J. Rosen.
A message left for Chortkoff’s lawyer was not immediately returned.
Another alleged salesman, Robert Matias, 50, of Los Angeles, is a fugitive, prosecutors said.
arrested Thursday was Anthony David Millan, 37, of Chula Vista, who was
chief executive officer of a company called C22, authorities said.
Millan has pleaded not guilty, said his lawyer, Tim Scott.
president, Mack Machen, 70, of Los Angeles, was expected to surrender. A
messages left for his attorneys was not immediately returned.
contended that companies were "boiler room" telemarketing operations
that called people around the country and convinced some 140 people to
invest nearly $5 million in bogus film projects, prosecutors contend.
one movie script was written, no movies were ever actually produced,"
the U.S. attorney’s office statement said in a statement.
C22 claimed to be raising money for a movie called "Beyond the Mat," authorities said.
The other company raised money for a film initially called "Marcel," authorities said.
in 2011, the Alabama Securities Commission filed an order against the
company for violating state investment law, so the company name was
changed and the movie renamed "The Smuggler" to hide the order from
potential investors, the federal indictment alleged.
Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit
alleging that Braslau, Chortkoff and Rawitt defrauded investors.
were falsely told that actors ranging from Donald Sutherland to
Jean-Claude Van Damme would appear in the movie when in fact they were
never even approached," an SEC statement said.
The men "sold
investors on the Hollywood dream," Michele Wein Layne, director of the
SEC’s Los Angeles regional office, said in the statement. "But the dream
never became a reality because they took investors’ money for
themselves rather than using it to make a movie."
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