Former stockbroker Mark Hotton was arrested on October 15 on charges of defrauding the producers of the Broadway musical adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca, according to Deadline.com. Funding for the musical fell apart earlier this month amid previously reported doubts about its financial backing, and a growing suspicion that one of its primary investors—a secretive businessman named Paul Abrams who had reportedly pledged $4.5 million, then suddenly died of malaria—never existed.
Hotton led the producers of the planned musical to believe he had $4.5 million in financing commitments and the possibility of a $1.1 million loan, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "Mark Hotton perpetrated stranger-than-fiction frauds both on and off Broadway," Bharara said. "Hotton concocted a cast of characters to invest in a major musical—investors who turned out to be deep-pocketed phantoms. To carry out the alleged fraud, Hotton faked lives, faked companies and even staged a fake death, pretending that one imaginary investor had suddenly died from malaria."
The investigation, which began in September, found that when it became obvious that investors' commitments would fall through, Hotton allegedly tried to broker a $1.1 million loan for the producers. "In his alleged scheme to defraud investors, Mark Hotton wrote, directed and starred in the work of fiction he took to Broadway," said Bharara.
Hotton is charged with two counts of wire fraud and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count.