MIAMI. The 44-year-old former actor and film producer from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, has been sentenced to 262 months in prison for his involvement in a financing scheme that scammed more than $60 million from investors, U.S. Southern District Attorney’s Office said. Florida announced.
Defendant Jason Van Eman was also ordered to pay some of the victims more than $9 million in damages.
The verdict came after a federal jury found Van Eman guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering in May.
According to the evidence, Van Eman positioned himself as a film producer and financier, offering funding for independent films, Broadway shows, music festivals and other productions. Van Eman promised the victims (producers and others seeking funding) that his partner (an accomplice named Benjamin McConley) would pay for any money the victims put into their projects. Then, with the seed capital pooled (which made the projects more attractive to investors), McConley applied for and received funding from financial institutions.
Based on this lie, the victims transfer over $60 million to accounts controlled by the scammers. Contrary to what Van Eman promised the victims, his partner never returned their financial contributions or applied for funding. Instead, Van Eman and his accomplices stole the victims’ money, transferring it to their personal and corporate bank accounts, often within days of making the deposit. To make the scam more believable, Van Eman and McConley hired Benjamin Raphael, a bank clerk whose role was to reassure the victims that their cash deposits were correct and that their money was safe—neither of which was true.
Van Eman, McConley and Raphael used the stolen money to buy luxury cars, jet skis, real estate, jewelry, home furnishings, designer clothes, hotel stays, and private and commercial air travel. Van Eman used some of the stolen money to finance films in which he played the part of an actor.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John J. Bernardo, Acting Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the verdict handed down by U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal.
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