Actor Pleads Guilty in Ponzi Scheme Case

Actor Zachary Horwitz is facing 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to operating a $650 million Hollywood Ponzi scheme. Horwitz admitted to lying to investors, leading them to believe he secured million-dollar licensing and distribution deals with Netflix and HBO, The New York Post reports.

Horwitz, 34, struck a deal with the US Attorney's Office in LA. He accepted one count of securities fraud. He's had small credits under the alias "Zach Avery" in horror and science fiction movies.

Horwitz told an LA court that he misled 250 investors, including three of his college friends and their relatives, to invest money in fabricated projects that funded his lavish lifestyle. He was able to repay much of the money but failed to return $231 million.

Some of the money went toward his purchase of a $5.7 million home in LA — equipped with a pool, gym, screening room, and a 1,000-bottle wine cellar. The scheme began in 2014 and lasted for seven years. He also spent the investments on luxury cars, chartered flights, and funding low-budget films he appeared in, including Last Moment of Clarity and Gateway.

Prosecutors are seeking the lengthiest prison sentence. In May 2021, Horwitz was indicted on five counts of securities fraud, six counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. As part of his deal, all charges will be dismissed. He also admitted that he lied to investors, telling them his film company, 1inMM Capital, LLC, was buying foreign distribution rights to movies. As part of the fake deal, the films would be licensed to Netflix and HBO. Investors agreed to loan his company $35,000 to $1.5 million per movie and get a return of up to 40 percent. 

His scheme began to unravel when Horwitz began defaulting on the loans borrowed in 2019. His wife, Mallory Horwitz, filed for divorce since learning of his shady business dealings. She claims that she too had been duped.