The ousted chairman of Aviron Pictures was arrested today on federal fraud charges for using $1.7 million in the federal government’s coronavirus-relief Paycheck Protection Program funds for his personal use.
William Sadleir was taken into custody without incident by FBI agents and other federal officials on Friday, the Department of Justice revealed. He allegedly filed applications for loans under the names of various Aviron entities through JPMorgan Chase – but not for the reasons he stated.
The complaint, which was filed Thursday and unsealed after his arrest today, charges Sadleir with wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, and making false statements to the Small Business Administration.
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The four charges carry a collective maximum statutory penalty of 82 years in federal prison.
“This film producer allegedly made a series of misrepresentations to a bank and the Small Business Administration to illegally secure taxpayer money that he then used to fund his nearly empty personal bank account,” said U.S Attorney Nick Hanna on Friday in a statement “The Paycheck Protection Program was implemented to help small businesses stay afloat during the financial crisis, and we will act swiftly against those who abuse the program for their own personal gain.”
“This defendant allegedly used Paycheck Protection Program loans to pay off his personal credit card debts and other personal expenses, rather than using the funds for legitimate business needs,” added Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As the department has made clear, those who defraud the PPP to line their own pockets at the expense of the American people will be brought to justice.”
Following a late 2019 lawsuit alleging impropriety in the company structure, Sanlier exited from his role as the operating manager of Aviron Pictures, a subsidiary of Aviron Group, in January of this year.