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‘Rebecca’ backers charge fraud

Producers seek $100 million in damages

Producers of Broadway’s nixed fall opener “Rebecca” have filed fraud charges against Mark Hotton, the Long Island man accused of perpetrating a scam that derailed the production.

The lawsuit asks for $100 million in damages that would cover, according to a filing in Gotham’s Supreme Court, “lost profits, plus punitive damages.”

Filed by lawyers for “Rebecca” producers including Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, the complaint details the alleged con carried out by Hotton and his wife Sherri Hotton, also named as a defendant. Filing describes the details of what producers call an “elaborate fraud”: “Hotton, aided and abetted by his wife Sherri, invented fictitious investors, forged financial documents, and orchestrated dozens of seeminglyindependent communications to Plaintiffs — all ostensibly from bona fide investors, lenders, and their associates.”

As legiters already know well from following the backstage saga in recent weeks, Sprecher turned to Hotton to help fill a $4.5 million hole in fundraising for “Rebecca,” with a capitalization cost estimated at between $12 million and $14 million. Federal authorities arrested Hotton Oct. 23 on charges that included bilking “Rebecca” producers out of $60,000 in fees while feigning to undertake efforts to drum up coin for the show.

“Rebecca” producers have already spent an estimated $6 million on “Rebecca” and also have accumulated additional debt. Should the musical never make it to the boards, the producers would find themselves on the hook to refund the money they’ve spent to the show’s investors.

The legal action is the latest development in the long, troubled story of “Rebecca,” which initially had been planned for a London bow that was eventually aborted. The Broadway incarnation had been on the sked to open in the spring, but was postponed to this fall at the last minute because producers found themselves unable to raise all of the required coin — fundraising turbulence that in part prompted the producing team to rely on Hotton.

The filing also mentions an “Angel Investor” who, it’s claimed, had been ready to save the show in the wake of Hotton’s fraud, but was scared off by anonymous emails warning against investing in the show.

Before the most recent timeline was eighty-sixed in the wake of the scandal, “Rebecca” had been planned for a Nov. 18 opening at the Broadhurst Theater.

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