Man who bilked millions in movie-making scheme sentenced to 13 years in prison

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For six years, Benjamin McConley, 39, orchestrated a scheme to bilk more than $60 million from investors and producers wanting to fund movies and Broadway shows.

McConley, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud shortly after being arrested in 2019, was sentenced Tuesday to 13 years in federal prison.

Two other men, Jason Van Eman, 41, of Oklahoma, and former Wells Fargo Bank employee Benjamin Rafael, 30, of South Florida, were also charged. Rafael was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in July. Van Eman is awaiting trial.

Investigators say from 2013 to 2019 McConley and Van Eman billed themselves as producers and financiers and offered to provide funding to others who were working on motion pictures, theater performances and other projects.

The men guaranteed that the victims’ cash contributions would be matched dollar for dollar. Instead, the victims were told to deposit the money in an account controlled by McConley, Van Eman and Rafael.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release Tuesday that the “victims lost millions of dollars based on these false representations and promises.”

The money, the attorney’s office said, was spent on stocks, real estate and luxury items including automobiles, jewelry, designer clothes and private and commercial air travel.

In addition to the prison sentence, McConley has to forfeit $69 million, pay restitution to the victims, forfeit real estate traceable to the fraud scheme, and serve three years of probation.

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