LOS ANGELES, CA — A Los Angeles actor who appeared in low-budget horror and sci-fi films — but portrayed himself as a major industry player in real life — was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in federal prison for running a $650 million Ponzi scheme.
Zachary Horwitz, who used the name Zach Avery in movie credits, defrauded hundreds of investors who thought their money would fund distribution rights for movies that would air on HBO and Netflix, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office .
U.S. District Judge Mark Scarsi also ordered Horwitz to pay $230.3 million in restitution.
Horwitz, who lives in the Beverlywood area, pleaded guilty in October to one federal count of securities fraud.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission also sued Horwitz and his company, 1inMM Capital LLC, in civil court for the scam, which involved the sale of film licensing rights, primarily in Latin American markets.
Horwitz, 35, operated 1inMM Capital as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to pay off previous investors and to fund an ‘opulent’ lifestyle, including buying a $6million house in Beverlywood, federal prosecutors said.
“He lived the lifestyle: the fancy house in Beverlywood, the Vegas junkets, the private jet trips,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “But, as his victims learned, the defendant was not a successful businessman or Hollywood insider. He just played one in real life.”
The program began in October 2014, when investment firms began entering into a series of six- or 12-month promissory notes with 1inMM Capital based on Horwitz’s statements.
The funds provided under each note were supposed to provide money for 1inMM Capital to acquire the rights to a specific film, according to documents filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors said that to persuade investors he was legit, Horwitz provided fake licensing agreements, as well as fake distribution deals with Netflix and HBO, all of which allegedly contained forged or fictitious signatures.
Despite Horwitz’s assertion of “strong relationships” with online platforms, representatives from Netflix and HBO deny their companies engaged in business with Horwitz or 1inMM Capital.
“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,” according to federal prosecutors.
Using his screen name Zach Avery, Horwitz had a small role in “The White Crow,” a 2018 biographical drama written by David Hare and directed by Ralph Fiennes that chronicles the life and career of ballet star Rudolf. Nureyev. Avery also appeared in the little-known films “Last Moment of Clarity” and “Farming,” according to IMDB.com.
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