Man accused of defrauding Broadway's 'Rebecca' - New York News

Man accused of defrauding Broadway's 'Rebecca'

Posted: Updated:

By TOM HAYS | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mark Hotton appeared out of nowhere this year, offering to come to the financial rescue of a fledgling Broadway adaptation of the psychological thriller "Rebecca."

The musical's producers had never heard of Hotton, but he managed to sell himself as a globe-trotting moneyman with connections to a wealthy Australian named Paul Abrams. That was before Hotton raised suspicions by claiming that Abrams had suddenly dropped dead.

Federal prosecutors charged Hotton on Monday with concocting a tale of phantom investors and an untimely death as imaginative as the classic Alfred Hitchcock film about a man haunted by the memory of his dead first wife.

Hotton, 46, also was charged in two other swindles -- one targeting a Connecticut-based real estate company and another involving his wife, Sherri. They were arrested at their Long Island home on Monday and are awaiting an appearance there in federal court.

Defense attorney Heath Berger did not immediately return a call for comment.

Hotton "perpetrated stranger-than-fiction frauds both on and off Broadway," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

In the "Rebecca" case, he "faked lives, faked companies and even staged a fake death," the prosecutor said.

The planned production of the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier collapsed earlier this month amid questions about its financial backing.

 

Lead producer Ben Sprecher "is extremely gratified that Mr. Hotton has been taken into custody," said his attorney, Ronald Russo, adding that Sprecher has "cooperated completely with the investigation."

"Mr. Hotton's fraudulent conduct did enormous damage to Broadway and to `Rebecca,"' Russo said. "Mr. Sprecher is totally committed to bringing `Rebecca' to New York."

According to a criminal complaint, a "third party" suggested this year that the producers contact Hotton to see if he could help them with a $4 million shortfall for the musical's budget. Even though they "had never Hotton or heard of him," they started an email correspondence that convinced them he had secured the money from four overseas investors, including "Paul Abrams," the complaint says.

The producers agreed to pay Hotton $15,000 in fees and commissions between March and June 2012, the complaint says. He was also paid an additional $18,000 "advance" against his 8 percent commission, it says.

While pressing for Abrams to wire the funds in July, Hotton wrote that the investor had been hospitalized with malaria following a trip to Africa, the complaint says. An email later forwarded to the producers -- purportedly written by Abrams' secretary -- read: "Mr. Hotton, I'm so sorry to relay such terrible news -- Mr. Abrams passed away this evening and the family has asked for your attendance at the services ... as you were so close to him."

In a separate Long Island case, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused Hotton and his wife of cheating business partners out of $3.7 million.

An indictment alleges that the couple, while operating three electrical contracting companies, created fake invoices showing money owed by third parties. They then sold the purported debts to other companies, the indictment said.

Associated Press writers Kiley Armstrong and Ula Ilnytzky in New York City and Frank Eltman on Long Island contributed to this report.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:02 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:02:35 GMT
    Public Advocate Letitia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
    Public Advocate Letitia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
  • Pediatric cancer awareness

    World Trade Center to go gold

    World Trade Center to go gold

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:48 PM EDT2014-08-22 00:48:12 GMT
    Like so many teenagers, Shelby Huff was hung up on getting abs until one day two years ago when she realized looking good was not as important as feeling good. She was doing sit-ups when suddenly she developed huge bruises on her legs. Shelby was diagnosed with a deadly bone marrow disease.
    Like so many teenagers, Shelby Huff was hung up on getting abs until one day two years ago when she realized looking good was not as important as feeling good. She was doing sit-ups when suddenly she developed huge bruises on her legs. Shelby was diagnosed with a deadly bone marrow disease.
  • Manhattan fire hydrant earns more money than average American

    Manhattan fire hydrant earns more money than average American

    Thursday, August 21 2014 4:18 PM EDT2014-08-21 20:18:03 GMT
    One Manhattan fire hydrant has turned into a cash cow for the city.It's become a celebrity in revenue generator and it does not ask for sick days, gets no health benefits, and no 401(k). Yet it brings in tens of thousands of dollars for the city each year.The old hydrant is so notorious, it's got a personalized sign.. It sits across from 152 Forsyth St. and is a local legend.In just an eight month period the hydrant has caused drivers to get hundreds of tickets.The issue that catches drivers ...
    One Manhattan fire hydrant has turned into a cash cow for the city.It's become a celebrity in revenue generator and it does not ask for sick days, gets no health benefits, and no 401(k). Yet it brings in tens of thousands of dollars for the city each year.The old hydrant is so notorious, it's got a personalized sign.. It sits across from 152 Forsyth St. and is a local legend.In just an eight month period the hydrant has caused drivers to get hundreds of tickets.The issue that catches drivers ...
  • EntertainmentMore>>

  • Savion Glover, the master teacher

    Savion Glover, the master teacher

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:26:05 GMT
    While the rest of us merely march to the beat of our own drum, Savion Glover is the drum. The tap dance superstar has dazzled audiences from the small screen to the big screen from the White House to the Great White Way. More than just a legend, Savion has become a curator of tap. He is on a mission to keep the craft sacred for future generations.
    While the rest of us merely march to the beat of our own drum, Savion Glover is the drum. The tap dance superstar has dazzled audiences from the small screen to the big screen from the White House to the Great White Way. More than just a legend, Savion has become a curator of tap. He is on a mission to keep the craft sacred for future generations.
  • Billy Crystal will lead Robin Williams tribute at the Emmy Awards

    Billy Crystal will lead Robin Williams tribute at the Emmy Awards

    Billy Crystal will deliver the tribute to Robin Williams at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday.
    Billy Crystal will deliver the tribute to Robin Williams at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday.
  • Dave Grohl, wife welcome daughter

    Dave Grohl, wife welcome daughter

    Third time's a charm for rocker Dave Grohl and his wife Jordyn Blum, who welcomed their third daughter recently, People reports.
    Third time's a charm for rocker Dave Grohl and his wife Jordyn Blum, who welcomed their third daughter recently, People reports.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices