A Manhattan Beach man has pleaded guilty to a fraud charge and admitted bilking foreign investment groups out of $14 million by falsely claiming the money would be used to produce a feature film that Netflix would distribute.
Adam Joiner, 41, entered the guilty plea Friday in Los Angeles federal court to one count of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Joiner faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced March 6.
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Joiner used fake documents and forged signatures to raise millions of dollars from foreign investment firms based in South Korea and China for a movie project he said would be called "Legends," according to his plea agreement.
Joiner, who operated a company called Dark Planet Pictures, defrauded Korea Investment Global Contents Fund, a South Korean investment fund whose assets are managed by Korean Investment Partners Co., which suffered $8 million in losses, federal prosecutors said.
Joiner also defrauded a Chinese investment firm called Star Century Pictures Co., and a related company called PGA Yungpark Capital, which invested $6 million into "Legends," prosecutors said.
As part of the scheme, Joiner falsely told investors that Netflix had agreed to distribute the picture, a claim Joiner supported with a bogus distribution agreement that contained the forged signature of a Netflix executive. Joiner subsequently told the investors he had terminated the distribution agreement with Netflix and had secured a new agreement with Amblin Partners, all of which was false, court documents show.
The FBI reviewed Dark Planet Pictures' bank records and determined that $5.2 million of the investors' money was used to purchase Joiner's Manhattan Beach home and another $4.3 million was transferred to a bank account that may be linked to another film in development linked to Joiner, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.