Actor gets 20 years in prison for running $650m Ponzi scheme


The low-budget horror movie star who terrorized investors with a $650 million Ponzi scheme based on bogus deals with HBO and Netflix was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday.

Zachary Horwitz, 35, was punished in a federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles after pleading guilty in the case last October. The judge also ordered him to pay $230 million in restitution.

“I’ve lost my way,” Horwitz told U.S. District Court Judge Mark Scarsi before sentencing, calling himself a “flawed and broken man.”

A woman seated with Horwitz’s family burst into loud sobs as the jail sentence was handed down. A victim who showed up in person to deliver an impact statement seemed pleased with the long sentence, but shook her head in disgust when the judge said Horwitz, who has two young sons, could wait until March 14 to get there.

Horwitz’s lawyers had asked for leniency during back-and-forths involving allegations that Horwitz suffered from bipolar disorder and addiction issues.

The Convicted Con Man, Who Starred in Horror Movies The devil below (2021) and You’re not alone (2020), began his ‘massive’ Ponzi scheme in 2014, prosecutors said, falsely telling his clients he was so well-connected in the entertainment industry that he could acquire movie titles for foreign distribution and then license the properties to HBO, Netflix and other major streamers in deals offering eye-popping returns of 25-40%.

In reality, Horwitz was a fraud who used the money to fuel a high-flying Hollywood lifestyle filled with private jet and yacht rentals, Vegas parties, luxury cars and buying a $5.7 million mansion with a swimming pool, home gym, and a private screening room on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, authorities said. According to an FBI affidavit, Horwitz spent more than $6.9 million on American Express credit card bills, more than $345,000 on charter planes and boats, and more than $604,000 on Merceds-Benz vehicles and Audi.

“Defendant conducted the largest known Ponzi scheme in the history of this district,” Los Angeles-based US attorneys wrote in a recent filing. “He burned a fortune, living a life of extravagance while gluing his victims – including some who once thought he was their friend – with a $230 million bill that left many of them financially broken and personally devastated.”

Three victims addressed the court in person on Monday, including Robert Henny, a screenwriter who said he lost $1.8 million in the Ponzi scheme he described as “devastating” and a “never-ending nightmare”.

Others have made heartbreaking statements in writing, including a 73-year-old widow who lost her Vietnam veteran husband to Agent Orange. This woman told the court that she was still caring for a 46-year-old girl with special needs and had no money to spend. “[Horwitz] stole a third of my retirement account,” she wrote to the judge. “He robbed me of the confidence to trust anyone with my investments. I realize that I will never be able to earn back what has been taken from me and my daughter.

Another unidentified victim, 64, described losing $1.4 million in the scam: “I had to go back to work for food and shelter. I will never be able to recover this amount by working. Some of that money was an inheritance from my mother’s death. I am emotionally upset. I cry everyday and have stopped seeing friends or family due to the shame of this financial loss and now have severe distrust of other human beings. Without my spiritual beliefs, I would have committed suicide.

According to his plea deal with prosecutors, Horwitz tricked an Illinois investor into sending him $1.4 million in December 2018 for a bogus deal claiming to buy certain international distribution rights from Active measuresa true documentary exploring the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

According to documents filed in the case, Horwitz gave his victims copies of fabricated licensing and distribution agreements with forged or fictitious signatures. When his company, 1inMM Capital, began defaulting in 2019, Horwitz “doubled down on his lies,” blamed streaming platforms and produced spoofed emails with “” and “@netflix” addresses. .com” to “appease” its investors into thinking their money remained safe, prosecutors said.

Henny recalled receiving those emails in his court statement on Monday: “I saw the (fake) emails from the streaming services. They were checking and apologizing. … At the time the Truth finally came out, our remaining savings were gone.


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