Business Manager Who Stole From Alanis Morissette Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

Six years in prison and $8.65 million in restitution was the harsh reckoning for former music industry business manager Jonathan Schwartz, who received his sentence Wednesday in Federal Court in Los Angeles for embezzling millions from clients including Alanis Morissette. Schwartz will report for his prison sentence on July 11.

Victims including Morissette and Schwartz’s former business partner Bernard Gudvi testified in favor of the harshest sentence possible, and were rewarded beyond expectations as Judge Dolly Gee exceeded the 63-month sentence requested by federal prosecutors. “In the past I’ve criticized the sentencing guidelines as draconian, but this is a rare instance in which I feel they’re not harsh enough,” Gee said before revealing Scwhartz’s fate.

It was in stark contrast to the one year and one day Schwartz’s team requested. Schwartz, 47, pled guilty in January to two federal counts: wire fraud and falsifying federal tax returns. In preemptively pleading guilty he waived the right to a grand jury, thus saving the government “a costly trial,” a factor Gee said she considered.

Morissette testified how for six years prior to being caught in early 2016 Schwartz systematically stole from her, filching in increments of anywhere from $10,000 to $120,000 at a time. She said he sought to cover his tracks by portraying the singer to close associates as a fiscally irresponsible freespender, building recording studios and buying houses against his advice. “I’d go on tours he recommended and they would lose money, but he’d still urge me to spend! Spend! Spend! He was creating an alibi from the start.” He even told people he withdrew money from her account so she could invest in an illegal marijuana operation, Morissette said.

Schwartz not only wreaked havoc on her family financially, but also took a psychological toll. “He not only stole $5 million in cash from me, he stole a dream,” Morissette said, detailing how Schwartz would cry when she questioned him too pointedly about her finances, “taking advantage of my empathic nature.” Morissette said he’d made it difficult for her to trust again. With lost interest, she said the $4.8 million he took came to more like $7.3 million.

Indeed, Gudvi said after a lifetime of hard work to build his Sherman Oaks-based GSO financial management firm, Schwartz not only damaged his firm but drew a cloud of disrepute over the entire management community, an argument Gee seemed to give credence.

Although attorney Nathan Hochman valiantly attempted to portray Schwartz as a gambling and substance addict whose judgment was overwhelmed by his dependence – a picture supported by a tearful Schwartz, who spoke in his own defense – Gee concluded it was “greed” and a desire to live beyond his means that motivated his actions. Citing the “sheer audaciousness” of the crime and the fact that he would not have been sorry had he not been caught, Gee said there was a need to send a strong signal to others who might contemplate such misbehavior.

Gudvi and Morissette both spoke of Schwartz’s infidelities to his wife, and lavish tropical vacations with a mistress and 19 pairs of Prada shoes as evidence that he was doing more than gambling, describing his behavior as “calculating and predatory.” In all, an independent GSO investigation revealed six victims from whom he stole $1.7 million in addition to Morissette, and the firm and its insurer made restitution with all of them.

Now Judge Gee says Schwartz must reimburse all involved: GSO, the federal government for taxes owed, and the insurance companies.

A tearful Schwartz said he was “humiliated” to stand an admitted criminal before those whose trust he violated and accepted full responsibility. Indeed, the courtroom of approximately 100 onlookers contained almost as many Schwartz supporters as detractors. US attorney Ranee Katzenstein, who was seated at the prosecutor’s table with an FBI agent at her side, pointed out that members of Schwartz’s family including his ex-wife had written letters in support of the victims.

Schwartz’s mother, who had been estranged before his problems, showed up to support him, as did his rabbi, Schlomo Bistritzky.

The hearing concluded with Katzenstein arguing that Schwartz’s $25,000 bond be revoked in favor of a $100,000 bond, but the judge didn’t seem to agree that he was a flight risk, instead calling for a $25,000 secured bond.

Onlookers could be heard grumbling that Schwartz was still enjoying a lavish lifestyle in nearby Agoura Hills, but that is soon to come to an end. Hochman requested Schwartz serve his time in a minimum security prison in Oregon, which the judge agreed to recommend.  Once released, Schwartz will also serve 3 years on probation.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Mike Vaughan

    Former Venmo COO Mike Vaughan Joins Stem's Board

    Los Angeles-based music distribution and payments startup Stem has appointed former Venmo executive Mike Vaughan to its board of directors. Vaughan was chief operating officer of Venmo from 2011 until earlier this year, and is now executive in residence at Oak HC/FT. “The music industry can benefit tremendously from innovation in the way money flows [...]

  • Troy Carter Jacqueline Saturn Aaron Bay

    Creative Community for Peace to Honor Top Music Execs for Second Annual Gala

    Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an apolitical organization made up of  prominent members of the entertainment industry that’s dedicated to promoting the arts as a means to peace in the Middle East, will honor several music business executives at its second annual Celebrating Ambassadors of Peace  gala. More than 200 top entertainment industry leaders are [...]


    Jay-Z Gets Shade From Kaepernick, Support From Cardi B as NFL Fallout Continues

    UPDATED: If anyone expected the drama surrounding Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL to calm down over the weekend, they were mistaken, as controversy and conversation continued to swirl. The situation grew even more intense late Friday when TMZ reported that Jay is looking to acquire a majority interest in an unspecified NFL team, which would [...]

  • Maya Thurman Hawke at the Premiere

    Maya Hawke Debuts Two Singles Ahead of Album Release

    Fresh off her Manson cult role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Maya Hawke is turning to music. The “Stranger Things” star released two new singles Friday, “To Love a Boy” and “Stay Open,” both of which will appear on her yet-to-be-titled upcoming album. Hawke wrote the lyrics and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jesse [...]

  • Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music

    As Woodstock Turns 50, the Fest's 10 Most Sacred Music Moments (Watch)

    Cars were left abandoned along the New York Interstate. Electrical and speaker systems fuzzed and popped. Amps blew then went silent. The rain was endless as the mud sank deep and rank. Young children ran naked and dazed through crowds of strangers. Food was scarce. Water, unclean. Looking back, Woodstock seems a more apocalyptic, than [...]

  • 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band

    Film Review: 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas'

    Settling in to watch “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” you may have a burning question that applies to almost no other rock documentary, and that is: Who, exactly, are these guys? The ones behind the beards? If you’re old enough, of course, you probably know that ZZ Top started out, in 1969, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content