Friday, June 21, 2024

Two Arrests in One Day: William Sadleir, A Movie Producer You Never Heard of, Is in a Lot of Trouble with the Law


You’ve never heard of William Sadleir (whose name might be pronounced “Sad liar.”) His movie company, Aviron, made bad movies with stars. They were D movies but the stars like Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, and so on didn’t mind the payday and hoped you’d not notice these releases.

In January, Aviron started laying off a lot of people.  Sadlier was ousted from the company.

Today, Sadleir was arrested in Los Angeles on charges that he filed bank loan applications fraudulently seeking more than $1.7 million dollars in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act, according to the Department of Justice. He took money from the government that was supposed to be for Aviron and paid off personal debts.

But Sadleir’s legal problems are bi-coastal. The US District Attorney in New York is charging him with engaging in multiple fraudulent schemes relating to investments made by a New York-based investment fund. The SEC alleges BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust, a registered closed-end management investment company, invested approximately $75 million in Aviron. They say Sadleir used $14 million of the money, again, to pay his expenses.

Whoops!  Sadleir was charged in the Complaint with two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The wire fraud charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.  The aggravated identify theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.

United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “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.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “William Sadleir, the chairman and CEO of Aviron Pictures, is charged today for his alleged role in a nearly $30 million fraud scheme.  He allegedly even went so far as to pose as a female employee of the sham New-York based company he created to further his illegal activity.  Today’s arrest serves as a reminder of the FBI’s dedication to holding people accountable for egregious financial crimes of this nature.”

Aviron’s movies were mostly awful except for one good one, Matthew Heinemann’s “A Private War,” starring Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan. The best of the Aviron bunch, it made just $3.8 million.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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