Former movie company executive to plead guilty to defrauding $1.7m COVID-19 relief package


The former CEO of a Hollywood film production company has agreed to plead guilty to federal fraud and money laundering charges, admitting he falsely requested and received $1.7 million in relief loans COVID-19.

In a plea agreement filed Friday in United States District Court, William Sadleir, 67, of Beverly Hills, agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering, said the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. said in a press release.

He must officially enter the guilty pleas on March 16.

Sadleir ran Aviron Pictures before he was fired in late 2019, according to the US Department of Justice

The former movie manager filed bank loan applications that fraudulently sought more than $1.7 million in forgivable dollars Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act.

According to court documents, Sadleir obtained the loans for three Aviron entities by falsely stating that the funds would be used to support the salary expenses of 33 employees of each company, when in fact the entities were no longer operational, says the Press release.

Days after the loans were funded on May 1, 2020, Sandleir transferred nearly $1 million to his personal checking account, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Sandleir “spent a substantial portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds on utility bills, mortgage expenses and his personal attorney, among other things,” he admitted in his plea agreement. Sandleir “did not use any of the proceeds of the fraudulent loan to pay employees of the Aviron companies”.

Following the discovery of the fraudulent loan applications, federal agents seized $308,058 in fraudulent loan proceeds from an Aviron account, and Sandleir returned $1,122,090 to the bank that funded the loans, the press release said. .

As a result of the fraudulent PPP loan scheme, the Small Business Administration suffered losses of $282,566. In his plea deal, Sandleir agreed to pay full restitution.

Once he pleads guilty to both offenses, Sandleir will face a maximum statutory sentence of 50 years in federal prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend that the sentence imposed be served concurrently with the sentence to be imposed in an ongoing case in the Southern District of New York. Sandleir is set to be sentenced in the New York case on May 10 after pleading guilty in January to wire fraud for embezzling more than $25 million that had been invested in Aviron.

The Los Angeles case was investigated by the FBI, the Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration and Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


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