Six men have been charged with fraud after allegedly conning $1.8 million (£1.13 million) out of investors who handed over cash to fund a non-existent movie starring Donald Sutherland and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Samuel Braslau and Rand Chortkoff, who co-founded Mutual Entertainment Llc, were arrested on Thursday (20Feb14) amid accusations they worked with Stuart Rawitt from 2011 to convince more than 60 businessmen to pour their funds into a new World War Ii film, purportedly called The Smuggler.
They reportedly claimed the movie would feature The Hunger Games star Sutherland and martial arts icon Van Damme, but the project, along with two other proposed films, was bogus and the money was instead diverted to the trio's personal bank accounts, according to officials at America's Securities and Exchange Commission (Sec).
Braslau, Chortkoff and Rawitt, along with three other suspects, are now facing up to 20 years behind bars after being hit with fraud charges in two federal grand jury indictments, authorities announced on Thursday (20Feb14).
Three of the men have so far pleaded not guilty, while another is a fugitive, according to the Associated Press.