CEO of Reality TV Production Companies Agrees to Plead Guilty to Defrauding Private Lender out of $2 Million
LOS ANGELES – The CEO of two Hollywood production companies that specialize in reality television programming has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud for obtaining a $2 million business loan using fabricated documents and by misrepresenting his companies’ financial circumstances.
Jonathan Lee Smith, 40, of West Hollywood, was charged in an information with wire fraud. In a plea agreement also filed today, Smith agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, Smith managed and owned two production companies, Hoplite Entertainment, Inc. and Hoplite, Inc. To convince a private lender to fund a $2 million loan last year, Smith falsely represented that his two companies had accounts receivable of $3,348,000, and he submitted falsified license agreements and other forgeries to back up the claim.
To convince the private lender to give him additional time to repay the loan, court documents state, Smith falsely represented that payment was imminent. He also emailed a fake record showing a $100,000 wire payment from Hoplite, Inc. to the lender. In reality, the loan was never repaid, and Smith has agreed to pay $2 million in restitution.
Smith is expected to make his initial appearance in this case in United States District Court on July 6.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Alexander B. Schwab of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting the case.