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US charges N.Y. man with defrauding ‘Rebecca’ producers

By Robert E. Kessler -

NEW YORK — A man has been charged by federal prosecutors with three alleged frauds worth close to $5 million, including bilking the producers of a Broadway show out of $60,000 by inventing imaginary backers, prosecutors said.

Mark Hotton, 46, of West Islip, N.Y., was arraigned in federal court Monday on charges that he obtained the money by falsely claiming he could get the producers $4.5 million to help underwrite the show “Rebecca,” based on the Gothic romance novel.

“Mark Hotton perpetrated stanger-than-fiction frauds both on and off-Broadway,” Preet Bhara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a news release.

Hotton is also being charged with two other frauds—variations of what prosecutors say is a common confidence scam known as an advance-fee scheme, in which victims are promised a large sum of money after paying an upfront fee, but never get it.

In the alleged scheme, Hotton is accused of inventing a large cast of characters who he said were the potential backers, including a man from Hawthorne, East Victoria, “Paul Abrams,” who supposedly died of malaria after traveling in Africa before he could invest.

Earlier Monday, Hotton’s lawyer Gerald Shargel said his client “tried his hardest to raise” money for the show. “He certainly wasn’t doing this with any fraudulent purpose.”

Ron Russo, lawyer for “Rebecca” producer Ben Specher, said: “Ben Specher is most gratified that the government has moved quickly to bring this man to justice. Unfortunately, he has done incalculable damage to Broadway, and to ‘Rebecca’ the musical. Ben is totally committed to proceeding to bring “Rebecca” to Broadway.”

In a second alleged scheme, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Hotton with cheating the president of an unnamed Connecticut real estate company out $750,000 by promising he could obtain a $20 million loan for unspecified businesses, prosecutors said. One supposed investor in Connecticut was also named “Paul Abrams” and used the same email address as the so-called investor in “Rebecca,” prosecutors said.

On Long Island, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch charged Hotton, with his wife, sister, and three others with a third wire fraud, as well as money laundering, in an alleged scheme to defraud a Sterling Commercial Credit of Brighton, Mich., out of $3.7 million. Hotton and his associates claimed that in exchange for the $3.7 million, they could obtain $9.8 million in accounts receivable from various businesses. Sterling operated as a factor, meaning he obtained at a discount unpaid business debts and collected on the bills.

Hotton pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on the Long Island federal case, as did his wife, Sherri Hotton, 43, his sister, Denise Hotton Labriola, 50, of West Islip, and two of his employees, Marianne Mextorf, 51, of Farmingdale, and Michael Scibelli, 54, of West Babylon.

A sixth person indicted in the Long Island scheme, David Blass, 60, identified as the former assistant director of facilities engineering for Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, has not yet been apprehended, officials said. He provided some false bills used the scheme, prosecutors said.

U.S. Magistrate Arlene Lindsay ordered Hotton and other defendants held without bail, pending future hearings.

Assistant United States Attorney Burton Ryan, in arguing in court papers that Hotton be held without bail, said that he may have large sums of cash hidden abroad, noting that he often traveled to the Cayman Islands, and sailed overseas on his yacht, the Hott Catch.

Ryan said federal agents are investigating other schemes that they believe Hotton is involved in and his total frauds might amount to $15 million.

He said that Hotton is a danger to the community because on several recent occasions he allegedly “swerved” his car toward a neighbor’s wife, and on Saturday threatened her, according to the neighbor’s husband.

These incidents occurred after the neighbor, identified only as John Doe 1, complained to Hotton that he had lost an unspecified amount of money in one of Hotton’s deals, Ryan said.

 

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Posted on October 16, 2012. Filed under Crime.
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4 Responses to US charges N.Y. man with defrauding ‘Rebecca’ producers

  1. anonymous Reply Report comment

    October 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I believe only violent criminals should be in prison except for white collar criminals that destroy peoples lives by taking all the money they have worked their whole lives to earn. The law should be you stay in jail until all the money is repaid. Hows that for a deterent.

    • Katie Reply Report comment

      October 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Most criminals don’t pay their fines, let alone reimburse for what they stole. There should be permanent garnishments on their social security numbers no matter where they work.

  2. cav Reply Report comment

    October 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I have been waiting to see this type of news regarding Mr. Hotton for a while now, he beat me out of approx 35k. Thats a lot money when you need it. Glad the system worked to catch a scum like this guy. Guess he never learned the lesson of what goes around comes around. But its not to late,he will now in prison.

  3. Of west islip Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    kno him a long time deserves 40yearsin jail always thought he was better then everyone from his mansion to his cage let him rot