Feds Arrest Hollywood Executive on Fraud Charges that Allege He Pocketed Money from COVID-19 Relief Program

            The feds arrested William Sadleir, 66, formerly of Aviron Pictures, on federal fraud charges that allege he applied for $1.7 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), falsely certified that the money would be used to finance the operations of other Aviron entities, and then used some of the relief funds for his personal expenses.

A criminal complaint accuses Sadleir of fraudulently filing bank loan applications that sought more than $1.7 million dollars in forgivable PPP loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Sadleir allegedly obtained the forgivable loans by falsely representing that the funds would be used to support payroll expenses, when, in fact, Sadleir intended to use and did use a significant portion of the funds for personal and non-business-related expenses.  The feds have charged Sadleir with wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, and making false statements to the Small Business Administration.

The affidavit in support of the complaint states that Sadleir last month caused applications for PPP loans to be submitted to JPMorgan Chase on behalf of Aviron Group, LLC; Aviron Licensing, LLC; and Aviron Releasing, LLC dba Regatta. The bank approved the loans, and Sadleir received more than $1.7 million. “[I]mmediately upon receiving the funds a significant amount was diverted to Sadleir’s personal accounts and used for personal expenses.” 

Authorities linked Sadleir to the three PPP loan applications made on behalf of the three Aviron entities. All three applications claimed each company had 33 employees and monthly payroll expenses of well over $200,000. On April 30, JPMorgan Chase approved the loan applications, and the next day money was wired to nearly empty JPMorgan Chase bank accounts associated with the three entities. Within days, nearly $1 million of the PPP loan money was transferred into Sadleir’s personal account at JPMorgan Chase, the affidavit alleges. Investigators say he used some of the money to pay personal expenses, including payments to Sadleir’s and his wife’s American Express cards. One payment allegedly made with PPP loan proceeds – a $40,000 payment on Sadleir’s car loan – was reversed and JPChase Morgan froze the accounts associated with the alleged scheme.

A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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