Theatre People recently brought you the story of the Broadway musical, Rebecca, which had been postponed indefinitely, after reports of a malicious email scam scared off potential investors.
There has been a major development in this bizarre saga, after middle-man financier, stockbroker Mark C. Hotton, was arrested in New York overnight, on fraud charges relating to this scheme.
Mr Hotton, 46, is alleged to have invented these potential investers, even going so far as to state he had entertained them on a bogus African safari, where one of the mysterious backers was said to have died. This is the main reason Rebecca struck financial difficutly in the first place. Without this deceased investors $4.5mil, Rebecca was forced to seek further financial support.
In reality, there were no investors and certainly no deceased ones. Mr. Hotton invented the investors and their supposed financial interest in the show, to secure $60,000 from the Broadway producers for his help and expenses in arranging financing. In addition, Mr. Hotton allegedly used the same invented investors as part of a scheme to defraud a Connecticut real estate company of $750,000. The company was similarly relying on Mr. Hotton to help it secure a large loan.
“As described in the criminal complaint, Mark Hotton perpetrated stranger-than-fiction frauds both on and off Broadway,” Mr. Preet Bharara, from the office of United States attorney in Manhattan, said in the release. “As part of one alleged scheme, Hotton concocted a cast of characters to invest in a major musical — investors who turned out to be deep-pocketed phantoms. To carry out the alleged fraud, Hotton faked lives, faked companies and even staged a fake death, pretending that one imaginary investor had suddenly died from malaria.”
He added, “Ultimately, Hotton’s imagination was no match for the F.B.I., which uncovered, with lightning speed, his alleged financial misdeeds.”
Ronald G. Russo, a lawyer for the Broadway show’s lead producer, Ben Sprecher, said his client was “extremely gratified” that Mr. Hotton had been taken into custody and charged.
“This fraud did enormous damage to Broadway, and Ben Sprecher remains totally committed to bring ‘Rebecca’ to New York,” Mr. Russo said.