LOS ANGELES – Former Aviron Pictures chief executive has agreed to plead guilty to federal fraud and money laundering charges, admitting he applied for and received $1.7 million in loans under the protection program paychecks (PPP) for Rowing entities when the entire operation was being shut down. following his embezzlement.
In a plea agreement filed today in United States District Court, William Sadleir, 67, of Beverly Hills, agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. Sadleir is due to officially enter guilty pleas on March 16.
Sadleir filed bank loan applications that fraudulently sought more than $1.7 million in repayable PPP loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. According to court documents, Sadleir obtained the loans for three Aviron entities by falsely stating that the funds would be used to support salary expenses for 33 employees at each company, when in fact the entities were no longer operational.
Days after the loans were funded on May 1, 2020, Sandleir transferred nearly $1 million to his personal checking account.
Sadleir “spent a substantial portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds on utility bills, mortgage expenses and his personal attorney, among other things,” he admitted in his plea agreement. Sandleir “did not use any of the proceeds of the fraudulent loan to pay employees of the Aviron companies”.
Following the discovery of the fraudulent loan applications, federal agents seized $308,058 of fraudulent loan proceeds from an Aviron account, and Sandleir returned $1,122,090 to the bank that funded the loans. As a result of the fraudulent PPP loan scheme, the SBA suffered losses of $282,566. In his plea deal, Sandleir agreed to pay full restitution.
Once he pleads guilty to both offenses, Sandleir will face a maximum statutory sentence of 50 years in federal prison. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend that the sentence imposed be served concurrently with the sentence to be imposed in an ongoing case in the Southern District of New York. Sandleir is set to be sentenced in the New York case on May 10 after pleading guilty in January to wire fraud for embezzling more than $25 million that had been invested in Aviron.
The Los Angeles case was investigated by the FBI, the Office of the Inspector General of the SBA and the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Major Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.
In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with agencies across government to intensify enforcement efforts. and prevention of pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department of Justice’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.