Jason Van Eman, a movie producer whose credits on IMDb include the 2016 historical drama “A Quiet Passion,” could spend the next several decades in prison after he was convicted Tuesday for his role in a $60 million film financing scheme.
A federal jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida found Van Eman, 44, guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida said in a statement.
Per prosecutors, Van Eman presented himself as a movie producer and financier, and offered to fund independent films, Broadway shows, music festivals and other projects.
Operating as Weathervane Productions, Van Eman and co-conspirator Benjamin McConley promised the victims they would match any money contributed to future projects, prosecutors said. Then, with the combined starting capital, McConley was supposed to apply for and secure financing from financial institutions.
In turn, the victims sent $60 million to accounts controlled by Van Eman and McConley. But instead of using the funds to finance new projects, the pair went on lavish spending sprees.
Prosecutors said the men recruited bank employee Benjamin Rafael to assure victims that their cash contributions had been matched and that their money was secure – but the whole thing was a scam.
The FBI Miami Field Division investigated this case and determined the trio used the funds to buy luxury cars, boats, real estate, jewelry, furniture, designer clothes and to travel on private jets. Prosecutors said Van Eman also used some of the stolen cash to fund movies in which he was cast.
McConley previously pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Rafael was sentenced to 42 months.
Van Eman is scheduled to be sentenced on July 21, and faces up to several decades in prison.