Drew Savitch Levin, a currently working Hollywood producer who won both an Emmy and a Cable Ace award and was founder and CEO of the NASDAQ traded TV production and distribution company Team Communications Co, was indicted in L.A. today. A federal grand jury fingered him for allegedly orchestrating a multi-million dollar scam to inflate the company’ s revenue and stock price. The 13-count indictment includes charges of of conspiracy, falsifying Team’s books and records, making false statements in Team’s annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC, making false statements to Team’s outside auditors, and giving false testimony to the SEC in a deposition. Levin is expected to self-surrender to authorities on Friday and appear that afternoon in U.S. District Court in L.A.. If convicted on all counts, Levin faces a statutory maximum penalty of 200 years in federal prison.
Levin (he goes by “Drew S. Levin”) is presently TMC Entertainment’s Chairman/CEO whose company bio describes him as having “more than 25 years of proven international production, distribution, sales, financial and management experience and has produced and distributed all forms of media properties to more than 100 countries worldwide. He is an Emmy- and Cable Ace-winning producer, who has executive produced more than 3,000 hours of critically acclaimed reality-based, documentary and dramatic television series and specials, movies-of-the-week and mini-series, game shows, animated and live-action children’s programming and live events for US networks, cable outlets and international broadcast venues. Over the course of his illustrious entertainment career, Mr. Levin has successfully built private and publicly traded media companies in the US and Europe and has raised more than $100,000,000 for his projects and companies.”
Here he’s interviewed by Fox News about the project Walking The Bible for PBS.
The feds noted in their press release today that a former managing director of Team’ s subsidiary in the UK previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for assisting Levin in the alleged fraud scheme. Noel Desmond Cronin, 60, of Herts, England, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson in Los Angeles on February 26 and is cooperating with the federal probe.Cronin is currently scheduled to be sentenced on January 26, 2009.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles cited this example of the alleged scam: Team licensed a collection of films known as the “Prestige Library” to a Cronin-controlled company in England called String of Pearls, who committed to pay Team $5.375 million for the films. However, String of Pearls w as unable to pay that fee to Team. Levin had String of Pearls buy a second collection of films from a third party for $500,000. Team then bought that same collection from String of Pearls for $2.535 million. String of Pearls used $500,000 of Team’ s money to pay the third party, and sent $2 million back to Team, supposedly to make a payment for the Prestige Library. Levin allegedly lied to Team’ s outside auditors by claiming there was no relationship between the Team-String of Pearls deal for the Prestige Library and the Team-String of Pearls deal for the second collection of films.
According to the indictment, Levin profited from the revenue-inflation scheme in several w ays. For example, he received a $335,000 bonus based on Team’ s reportedly profitable 1999 performance, when in fact Team had a loss that year and Levin was not entitled to any performance-based bonus. Levin also allegedly pledged more than 500,000 shares of Team as collateral for a loan to buy a $1.5 million ranch in Montana.
Near the end of 2000, Team’ s Board of Directors started an internal investigation of Team transactions. The indictment alleges that Levin obstructed the internal investigation by, among other things, firing Team’ s chief financial officer and restricting the investigators’ access to Cronin. In 2001, Team restated its 1999 fiscal results, going from a $1.791 million profit to a $4.25 million loss. For the year 2000, Team reported a loss of more than $42 million. In 2002, Team filed for bankruptcy protection. The SEC sued Levin in federal court in Los Angeles in 2005, and that civil case is pending. In today’s indictment, Levin is accused of giving false testimony to the SEC in a deposition.