The accusations are as flamboyant as the man himself is purported to be, but now he is facing up to six years in prison after being found guilty for his involvement in what  U.S. Attorney Damian Williams is calling “brazen and calculated schemes to defraud a New York investment fund out of over $30 million using a fake company, fake documents, and even a fake identity.”

William Sadleir was the chairman and chief executive officer of Aviron Pictures from approximately 2015 to 2019.  In that capacity he was one of the executive producers of the 2019 “The Informer” and, through his company Aviron Pictures, produced and directed at least half a dozen popular films.  Prior to starting Aviron, Sadleir was known as a businessman and entrepreneur.  From 1982-1983 Sadleir served as Director of the Office of Appointments and Scheduling for then-President Ronald Reagan.

It was also through his company that the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) says that Sadlier conned investors in Aviron, which Sadleir left in 2019 or 2020.  Foremost among the allegations is that he transferred monies that were to be used for advertising and media credits to a fake company he created.  Later, authorities say, he used that money to purchase items for himself, including a $14 million house in Beverly Hills.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and U.S. Attorney’s Office Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force led the investigation.

The 68-year-old Sadleir pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud on January 20, 2022.

On Friday, September 9, 2022 he was sentenced to six years in prison.  Judge Paul A Engelmayer also sentenced Sadleir to three years of supervised release following his prison term, and ordered him to pay $31,597,000 in restitution.

In a written release U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said, “William Sadleir portrayed himself as a successful Hollywood mogul…Sadleir went so far as to masquerade as a female advertising executive on maternity leave as part of an effort to cover up his crimes.  Today’s sentence holds Sadleir accountable for his crimes, and sends a message that there will be no happy ending for executives who defraud their investors.”

US Attorney's Office Press Release with Movie Reel Graphic via Canva
US Attorney's Office Press Release with Movie Reel Graphic via Canva

Officials say Sadleir took approximately $30 million from the $75 million that a publicly traded New York-based investment fund had invested with Aviron.  The investment fund, identified by The New York Daily News as the BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust, had a total worth of approximately $649.1 million in assets, according to The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Authorities say that the female employee of the company who Sadleir pretended to be was called “Amanda Stevens.”   They say at one point Sadleir tried to avoid questioning by claiming that “she” was on maternity leave.  Officials say Sadleir also forged a signature releasing a lien on intellectual property and assets owned by Aviron as security against loans made to Aviron by the investment fund. The DOJ says that Aviron ended up defaulting on the loans.

Photos from Aviron Pictures Events

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