A Los Angeles actor who appeared in low-budget horror and science-fiction movies pleaded guilty Monday to running a $650 million Ponzi scheme.
Zachary Joseph Horwitz, who used the name Zach Avery in film credits, formally entered his plea to one federal count of securities fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Sentencing was set for Jan. 3.
Horwitz, who lives in the Beverlywood area, bilked investors who thought their money would finance distribution rights for movies that would run on HBO and Netflix.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also sued Horwitz and his firm, 1inMM Capital LLC, in civil court over the scam, which involved the sales of film-licensing rights, primarily in Latin American markets.
Horwitz, 34, operated 1inMM Capital as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to repay earlier investors and to fund an “opulent” lifestyle, including the purchase of a $6 million Beverlywood home, federal prosecutors said.
The scheme 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 supplied under each note were supposed to provide money for 1inMM Capital to acquire the rights to a specific film, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Prosecutors said that to persuade investors he was legitimate, Horwitz provided fake license agreements, as well as fake distribution agreements with Netflix and HBO, all of which allegedly contained forged or fictional signatures.
Despite Horwitz’s claim of “solid relationships” with online platforms, representatives for Netflix and HBO deny their companies engaged in any business with Horwitz or 1inMM Capital.
Using his Zach Avery screen name, Horwitz had a bit part 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.