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Actor who faked deals with HBO, Netflix to plead guilty in Ponzi scheme

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An actor facing charges in connection with a massive Hollywood Ponzi scheme in which he allegedly fabricated movie deals with HBO and Netflix has reached a guilty plea agreement with federal prosecutors. 

Under the deal, a copy of which was shared with The Hill by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, 34-year-old horror and science fiction actor Zachary Horwitz is expected to plead guilty to a single count of securities fraud at an Oct. 4 hearing. 

A federal grand jury had indicted Horwitz earlier this year on five counts of securities fraud, as well as six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. 

Prosecutors intend to ask U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi to issue a long sentence for Horwitz, who allegedly convinced investors to give him more than $650 million for fake movie deals. 

The small-time Hollywood actor currently faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

The plea deal was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

The Hill has reached out to Horwitz’s attorney Anthony Pacheco for comment.

According to court documents, Horwitz admitted to falsely representing deals to investors over a seven-year period, telling them that his film company 1inMM Capital LLC was purchasing foreign distribution rights to movies and then licensing them to Netflix, HBO and other streaming platforms across the globe. 

Horwitz’s alleged scheme included more than 250 investors, including several of his close friends from college and their family members.

Horwitz was first arrested in April following a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaint that alleged the actor made “materially false and misleading statements” and described himself as an investor with “a wealth of knowledge, reputation, and experience.”

The SEC said that the money Horwitz received from investors was used to help pay off earlier investments, as well as for his own personal expenses, including the purchase of his $5.7 million home. 

Horwitz, who has appeared primarily in low-budget Hollywood films under the name Zach Avery, also allegedly used the money to equip his home with a screening room, gym and 1,000-bottle wine cellar, according to prosecutors.

Updated 12:30 p.m. 

Tags California Fraud Hollywood Ponzi scheme The Los Angeles Times U.S. attorney's office U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
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