FBI Arrests Hollywood Producer for Allegedly Paying Credit Card Dues With Coronavirus Aid

The Justice Department says the Hollywood producer applied for PPP loans announced as a part for Covid-19 aid.

William Sadleir, founder and ex-chairman of Aviron Pictures, was arrested by the FBI on Friday. He was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly defrauding the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) off $1.7 million. The Hollywood executive is also facing a separate lawsuit in New York for allegedly siphoning $30 million off an investor of the Aviron Pictures.

According to the Justice Department, Sadleir applied for PPP loans announced as a part for Covid-19 aid, for three different Aviron entities, even though he was ousted from the company late last year. He received three PPP loans worth $1.7 million from JPMorgan Chase. He allegedly diverted the amount, intended for small businesses to survive coronavirus pandemic, for personal expenses.

Federal Bureau of Investigation
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He used over $1 million for credit card payments and paying off car loans. The funds were "designed to be a lifeline to businesses struggling to stay afloat" during coronavirus crisis, said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. Charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and making false statements to the Small Business Administration are leveled against Sadleir, CBS Local reported.

Charges of $30M Fraud Against Sadlier

The Hollywood executive is facing separate federal charges in New York, for allegedly stealing $30 million from an Aviron investor. He acquired the amount on the pretext of buying advertising time but diverted the amount to a sham business entity. He even posed as a fictitious female employee "Amanda Stevens" and emailed the investor that the media credits had been reserved. He used part of that amount to buy a $14 million mansion in Beverly Hills, California, RT reported.

A lawsuit was filed against him late last year and he was ousted from Aviron a month later. He faces two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in New York. The Aviron Pictures was founded by Sadleir in 2017 and has released pictures such as Destination Wedding, A Private War and Kidnap.

About Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Under the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, named Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), passed in March, $349 billion was assigned for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), under which loans are provided to small businesses to provide salaries and paying other expenses.