Plea Agreement Filed in Court in “Birth of Innocence” Fraud Case
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that a plea agreement has been filed in the matter of the United States v. Louis J. Soteriou, a prosecution arising out of the “Birth of Innocence” movie project. A date for a change-of-plea hearing will be set, at which Soteriou will have an opportunity to plead guilty pursuant to this agreement in court. A plea agreement merely indicates the terms by which a defendant has agreed to plead guilty. As with all defendants, Soteriou is presumed innocent unless and until he pleads guilty in Court or is convicted after trial.
Pursuant to the terms of the filed agreement Soteriou will plead guilty to two of the 18 counts in the Indictment, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud (count 15) and one count of money laundering (count 16). Under the terms of the agreement the parties agree that Soteriou’s sentence should not exceed 84 months. The Court has authority to accept or reject the agreement and may defer the decision to accept or reject the agreement until sentencing. Should the Court reject the agreement, the rules of criminal procedure state that Soteriou would have the option to withdraw his guilty plea.
The agreement contains a statement of the factual basis for the plea, which explains among other things that during the 1990’s Soteriou came to exercise significant influence over Mac Parker and his wife, and that in 1999 Soteriou approached Mac Parker with the idea of making a movie called the “Birth of Innocence”. According to the plea agreement, Parker and Soteriou agreed that Soteriou would be involved in the creative aspects of making the film, including letting Mr. Soteriou’s spiritual evolution help guide the making of the film. In this way, Soteriou controlled, among other things, when the film would be completed. The plea agreement also states that Parker and Soteriou agreed that Parker’s role would include raising money to fund the creation of the film, and that Soteriou directed Parker not to disclose Soteriou’s involvement in the film to anyone including potential investors in the film. Parker did not disclose Soteriou’s involvement in the film to the overwhelming majority of investors. The agreement states that Soteriou was aware of these omissions and agrees that the government could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that such omissions were material to investors’ decisions to invest in the film. The agreement also states that from 2000 through 2009, Parker provided Soteriou with approximately $4 million that Parker raised from persons believing they were investing in the film project.
The plea agreement also states that Soteriou maintains that his desire to complete the “Birth of Innocence” and his desire to complete his spiritual evolution were sincere and that he continues to believe he will complete his spiritual evolution, that the “Birth of Innocence” likewise will be completed, and the investors will be repaid.
This case was originally discovered and investigated by Vermont’s Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. The federal investigation has been conducted by agents from the United States Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Soteriou is represented by the Steven Barth, of the Federal Public Defender’s office in Burlington. The prosecutor is Assistant United States Attorney Michael Drescher.