Producer Drew Levin sentenced in fraud case

Former Team Communications topper gets 5 1/2 years in fed case

Drew Levin, who led television production and distribution company Team Communications, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison on Wednesday for his role in stock fraud and an investment scam.

U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson also ordered Levin to pay $2.3 million in restitution to victims in the U.S., France, Austria, England and Switzerland.

Levin, 59, plead guilty in September 2011, to one case of conspiring to inflate the revenue and stock price of Team Communications, which he had led until 2001.

After being forced out of Team, Levin went on to run other production companies. But he plead guilty in another case to wire fraud, in which a French investor was bilked out of more than $100,000 he invested in one of Levin’s companies.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said that Levin was initially charged in the Team Communications case in March 2008, and was free on bond until two years later, when he was arrested on charges of the fraud against the French investor. He was re-released on Bond in November 2010, but jailed again the following March for violating conditions of his bond.

Team was traded on the NASDAQ exchange, and produced programming such as the TV movie “Final Jeopardy” and the syndie drama “Total Recall 2070.” According to prosecutors, Levin overstated Team’s revenues to make the company appear profitable. Authorities described a circular scheme in which Team would license programming at an inflated distribution fee and, when the customer was unable to pay the sums, Team sent them millions of Team’s own money so they could make the payments back to Team.

Authorities said that Levin collected a $335,000 bonus from team in 1999, and bought a $1.5 million vacation home in Montana by pledging the company’s shares as collateral.

Team filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

In the other case, prosecutors said that Levin promised to repay the French investor. After the investor started liquidation proceedings, he was sent bogus bank statements to make him believe that the money was on its way.

The SEC sued Levin in 2005, but their case was stayed pending the results of the criminal investigation.