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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-057

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER PLEADS GUILTY TO RUNNING INVESTMENT SCAM RELATED TO PHONY D.H.S. TV SHOW


Los Angeles, CA - A Palos Verdes man who claimed to be producing a television series based on the United States Department of Homeland Security pleaded guilty this afternoon to federal criminal charges, admitting he ran a scam to defraud his investors.

Joseph M. Medawar, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and one count of tax evasion. The scam involved Medawar's production company, Steeple Entertainment, Ltd., and a phony TV show that he told investors would be called "DHS."

In a plea agreement filed in the case, Medawar agreed to cooperate with investigators in an ongoing criminal investigation.

By pleading guilty today, Medawar admitted that he lied to investors to attract money for Steeple. Among other things, Medawar lied when he said that Steeple was undertaking efforts to become a publicly traded company, that Steeple had the endorsement of President Bush, and that the actual Department of Homeland Security had approved of the use of its name and seal for the TV show. Medawar also admitted that he knew that investor funds were being diverted for the personal uses of himself and others.

Medawar also admitted in court today that he participated in a scheme to receive illegal payments from a publicly traded company formerly known as American Fire Retardant Corporation (AFRD). Medawar admitted that he signed a deal, ostensibly to become a consultant for AFRD, when in reality Medawar and several co-conspirators agreed that he would not do any consulting work. They also agreed that Medawar would receive shares of stock in AFRD and other benfits as compensation for work that he never performed. Medawar agreed to funnel some of the funds back to the co-conspirators so that they could fraudulently profit from the distribution of AFRD stock. Medawar admitted that he was paid more than $1.2 million during a six-month period in 2003, and that he kept some of the AFRD funds for his own benefit.

Medawar pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Manuel Real, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on August 28. At sentencing, Medawar faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

The former chief financial officer of Steeple Entertainment, and the purported lead actress of the DHS series previously pleaded guilty to federal charges for concealing the scheme from federal investigators. They will be sentenced this summer.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.

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Release No. 06-057

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