By Paul Thomasch
NEW YORK, Oct 19 (Reuters) - A Broadway production team on
Friday filed a $100 million fraud lawsuit against a stockbroker
accused of jeopardizing the musical production of "Rebecca" by
concocting an elaborate ruse that included fictional characters
and a mysterious death.
The suit against Mark Hotton, 46, comes days after
authorities charged him with two counts of wire fraud for
allegedly having fabricated investors - one of whom he claimed
suddenly died from malaria - to dupe the producers of "Rebecca:
A gothic thriller based on a 1938 Daphne du Maurier novel,
"Rebecca" had been set to make its Broadway debut this fall in a
$12 million production pulled together by Ben Sprecher and
When the play ran into financing trouble, Sprecher and
Forlenza were put in contact with Hotton, whom the suit alleges
came up with four "investors" willing to pledge $4.5 million.
"In fact, Hotton was perpetrating an elaborate ruse. None of
the investors existed; he had concocted them all," according to
the lawsuit filed in New York state court. "Hotton made up the
names, dates of birth, home addresses, email addresses,
telephone numbers, and signatures of purported investors."
Just before the financing was due, the suit charged, Hotton
gave the production team troubling news: Paul Abrams, the
largest single investor, had died of malaria and the three other
investors were pulling out.
"This was a lie," the suit said, "although plaintiffs did
not know it at the time."
Adding another twist to the drama, the suit said an investor
who read accounts of the show's financial drama swept in to
offer $2.25 million to save "Rebecca." The investor was not
identified in the suit.
But that financing also fell apart when the investor
received an email from someone using a false name, the suit
This person wrote that "the walls are about to cave in" on
the production and "with this prospect of fraud, an ongoing
money shortage, a bad public perception, anemic ticket sales,
and a rabid press corps, the only good reason to invest" in the
show would be for a tax write-off.
Sprecher and Forlenza have sued the email' s author for
The show's producers have delayed its opening, and there are
now doubts about the future of a musical that debuted in 2006 in
Vienna, Austria, but has yet to make it to London or Broadway.
If it doesn't open, the lawsuit said, Hotton would be
"responsible for its destruction."
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