Producers fed middleman fees, arrest reveals

The arrest early Monday morning of Long Island stockbroker Mark Hotton — the alleged middleman in the fraud that scuttled the Broadway musical “Rebecca” — has shed some light on a recurring question among legit-world observers: What could possibly be in it for the perpetrator? Not much, the answer seems to be, based on details of the scheme revealed along with the notice of Hotton’s arrest.

The criminal complaint against Hotton claims he defrauded the “Rebecca” producers out of around $60,000, alongside another conspiracy to score $750,000 in a real estate hoax that was entirely separate from the “Rebecca” arrangements.

According to an announcement from Preet Bharara, a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, and Mary E. Galligan, the acting assistant director of the New York branch of the FBI, Hotton promised “Rebecca” producer Ben Sprecher he could drum up the $4 million Sprecher needed to complete funding of the Broadway musical, which had been planned to open this fall prior to its collapse last month.

The investigation found that producers paid Hotton $15,000 in fees as well as an $18,000 advance against the 8% commission he had negotiatived on any coin he raised above $250,000. A purported effort to broker a loan for the show bilked producers out of an additional $35,000, the case against Hotton claims.

As the details of the “Rebecca” scheme unfolded, including the invention of big-money international investors who didn’t exist, legiters have wondered what reward Hotton could have foreseen in the ploy, since the majority of the commission would have come only upon delivery of the $4 million to producers. While the collection of fees reps one motive, it’s still not clear how the alleged mastermind planned to keep the scheme going without getting caught.

Hotton was arrested at his Long Island home. Timeline for the legal proceedings stemming from the case remains to be set.

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