A Hollywood filmmaker who has produced a number of major films has been charged with fraud, the Department of Justice said late last week.
William Sadleir, whose credits include the 2019 Matthew McConaughey film “Serenity,” and the 2017 Halle Berry movie “Kidnap,” is accused of illegally taking $1.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds. The PPP was implemented earlier this year to help small businesses make payroll amid the spread of COVID-19. He was also accused of being involved in a massive wire fraud scheme.
The Department of Justice said that Sadleir used funds from the PPP for personal and non-business-related expenses, including personal credit cards and a car loan. The DOJ said he allegedly transferred over half the money to a personal bank account and began using and attempting to use the funds to pay off personal credit card debts totaling more than $80,000 and a car loan totaling approximately $40,000, among other personal expenses.
Court documents said that Sadleir claimed that the funds would be used to support payroll expenses for three film production and distribution companies.
“This defendant allegedly used Paycheck Protection Program loans to pay off his personal credit card debts and other personal expenses, rather than using the funds for legitimate business needs,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As the department has made clear, those who defraud the PPP to line their own pockets at the expense of the American people will be brought to justice.”
Sadleir faces federal charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and false statements to the Small Business Association.
Meanwhile, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York said last week that was allegedly involved in a $30 million wire fraud scheme. Among the allegedly fraudulent activity, he is accused of embezzling approximately $14 million of investor funds from his film company.
“As alleged, William Sadleir orchestrated a massive fraud, embezzling approximately $14 million of investor funds from his film company to pay for a Beverly Hills estate, among other fraudulent acts. Thanks to the dedicated work of our law enforcement partners at the FBI, Sadleir will be held accountable for his behind-the-scenes misdeeds.”