Paul Baker, the 11th defendant in a sham movie-financing scheme that defrauded investors out of more than $17 million, has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution.
Baker was convicted in 2012 on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and the sale of unregistered securities as part of a boiler room telemarketing operation run by Cinamour Entertainment. The company bilked investors who put money into independent motion pictures called From Mexico with Love and Red Water: 2012.
Now defunct, Cinemour actually produced 12 low-budget films from 2001-09, but court records show that the defendants lied, gave half-truths and concealed material facts from investors around the country.
As part of the scheme, telemarketers made “cold calls” and solicited investments with false claims that 93% of investor money would be used to produce and promote the two films in question and that investors would receive returns of up to 1,000%. In fact, prosecutors showed, little more than a third of investor funds were used to actually produce and promote From Mexico with Love, and the second film was never made. The scheme raised more than $17 million.
“Investors must beware when presented with extravagant promises of profits,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These defendants used the glamour of the film industry to make their false promises more attractive, which enabled them to steal millions of dollars from these victims. The sentences imposed in this case are a testament to the dedication and persistence of the law enforcement agencies which dismantled this fraudulent scheme, preventing further harm to victims.”
Baker previously was sentenced to more than 16 years, but that sentence was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found an error in how his previous convictions were factored into the sentence. Others convicted in the Cinamour case include its former president Daniel Toll, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and selling unregistered securities and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.