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David Bergstein Convicted of Defrauding Investors Out of $26 Million

Former movie producer David Bergstein was convicted by a federal jury on Thursday of defrauding investors out of $26 million.

Bergstein, who produced “The Laws of Attraction, “In the Heart of the Sea,” and other films, was found guilty on seven counts of swindling investors in Weston Capital Asset Management. He was taken into custody after the verdict was read, and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8.

Bergstein, 55, of Hidden Hills, Calif., was accused of using investor funds to pay his personal expenses, including credit card bills, legal fees, trips on private jets and Impressionist artwork. An SEC complaint alleged that he used some investor money to visit a Las Vegas nightclub and to pay a home entertainment contractor.

“As a unanimous jury swiftly found, David Bergstein defrauded investors out of more than $26 million,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “He withheld material information, transferred funds without disclosing conflicts of interest, and misappropriated funds for his own use. He now stands convicted of serious federal crimes.”

Bergstein’s attorney said that he would consider an appeal.

“We were disappointed in the outcome,” said the attorney, Thomas Bienert.

Co-defendant Keith Wellner pleaded guilty in December and agreed to testify against Bergstein. Wellner was general counsel and chief operating officer of Weston Capital Asset Management.

According to prosecutors, Wellner loaned $9 million of investor funds to Arius Libra, a fund managed by Bergstein, without disclosing the loan to investors. In another instance, Bergstein obtained $17.7 million in loans from a separate Weston fund, and used some of the funds to pay back investors from the first transaction. In both cases, prosecutors alleged that investors were misled about the nature of the transactions.

Bergstein used to run ThinkFilm and Capitol Film Development, which were forced into bankruptcy in 2010.

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