Actor Zachary Avery(Aka Zachary J. Horwitz), his ambitions for stardom were eclipsed this week when he was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for a film-licensing scam that reputedly bilked more than 200 investors of more than half a billion dollars.
Horwitz, who chalked up a few minor film appearances under the name of Zach Avery, was also ordered to pay back more than $230 million by US District Judge Mark C. Scarsi.
The 35-year-old actor had been arrested a year ago, and in October he pleaded guilty to federal securities-fraud charges. According to the indictment, the swindler solicited loans through his film company, 1inMM Capital LLC for the purpose of securing Netflix and HBO distribution rights that proved to be phony.
In Ponzi-scheme fashion, he used newly acquired funds to pay off old investors, but the pyramid finally collapsed. Instead, Horwitz diverted large sums to underwrite a lavish lifestyle, including yachts, sports cars, and a home he purchased for some $6 million—an implausible sum for an actor whose only credits had included roles in low-budget films like Moment of Clarity, The White Crow, Trespassers, and The Devil Below.
In announcing the charges against the actor in April 2021, Michele Wein Layne, director of the Los Angeles office of the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleged that Horwitz had “promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents.
We obtained an asset freeze on an emergency basis to secure for the benefit of investors what remains of the money raised…” Prosecutors argued that “Horwitz portrayed himself as a Hollywood success story…He branded himself as an industry player, who… leveraged his relationships with online streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights at a steady premium. But, as his victims came to learn, [Horwitz] was not a successful businessman or Hollywood insider. He just played one.