LOS ANGELES (WAN) – A Los Angeles man from Fort Wayne has been charged with operating what prosecutors describe as the largest Ponzi scheme in Hollywood history.
Zachary Joseph Horowitz, 35, a 2005 Carroll High School graduate, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $230,361,884 in restitution. He pleaded guilty in October 2021 to one of the securities fraud offenses.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, between 2014 and 2021, Horowitz raised at least $650 million through false claims that investor money would be used to obtain licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix allegedly agreed to distribute overseas. The Justice Department said many of the investors were personal friends.
Horwitz has never acquired the rights to the films or entered into any distribution agreements with HBO or Netflix. The Justice Department said the film licensing and distribution agreements were fraudulent.
Investors started complaining after Horowitz began defaulting on banknotes in 2019.
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors argued: “Defendant Zachary Horowitz portrayed himself as a Hollywood success story.” “He has described himself as an industry player, who, through his company … has leveraged his ties to online streaming platforms such as HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights at a fixed premium … but, as his victims learned, [Horwitz] He was not a successful businessman or familiar with Hollywood. He’s only played one in real life.”
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