Yield of Dreams

The Show Won’t Go On: Former Broker at the Center of Broadway Drama

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When I read about the mysterious death of the main investor of the Broadway musical “Rebecca,” Paul Abrams, a few weeks ago, I knew something was fishy. So did Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Today Bharara arrested and charged former broker Mark Hotton with defrauding the producers of the show and fabricating the prospect of $4.5 million in commitments from fake investors such as Abrams. In return for securing the commitments, the producers agreed to pay him $60,000 in fees and commissions. Read the complaint here.

There ain’t no business like show business, huh?

But Hotton’s transgressions don’t end there. Bharara also charged him for tricking a Connecticut-based real estate company into paying him $750,000 for securing the company a $20 million loan.

“Rebecca,” a musical based on the gothic mystery novel by Daphne du Maurier, fell apart when news of Abrams’ death of malaria came out. Abrams, who in fact never existed, was expected to invest $4.5 million into the production. Abrams was not the only investor Hotton fabricated. It’s a long and storied case, and you can read more about it in Bharara’s release.

Previously, Hotton was a broker with Obsidian Financial Group in New York until May of this year. He also has a history at Alexander Capital, American Capital Partners and Ladenburg Thalmann. His U-4 is a doozie, including charges of stolen property, grand larceny, and several client complaints.

I love this quote from FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Mary Galligan: “In his alleged scheme to defraud investors, Mark Hotton wrote, directed and starred in the work of fiction he took to Broadway. He even allegedly played the supporting characters – phantom investors who existed only in fictitious emails and Hotton's bogus assertions about them. A convincing portrayal on stage can earn you a Tony. A convincing act that fleeces a production's backers can earn you a prison term.”

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Casting a gimlet-eye on asset management issues.

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