Manashil, who now runs his own management company, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal wire fraud charge. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Manashil admitted to making a “terrible mistake” in 2012 when he was a CAA agent. He said he diverted the commission to his friend, producer Steven Brown.
“While I personally did not benefit from this transaction financially, I did knowingly help divert that commission to Mr. Brown,” Manashil wrote. “I arrogantly thought it was not important and that no one would ever know or care.”
When he was at CAA, Manashil worked with Oliver Stone, Edward Zwick, Tommy Lee Jones, and Lawrence Kasdan.
The theft came to light in an investigation of Brown, who was arrested in 2016 and charged with defrauding film investors.
Manashil said he had been friends with Brown since Manashil was an assistant at UTA, and that Brown had helped him through some difficult times. He said he justified the theft in his mind, rationalizing that “I was helping a friend who had helped me, and CAA would never notice or care about this commission.”
According to prosecutors, Manashil and Brown directed a co-conspirator to concoct phony invoices, which were sent to a producer who had worked with one of Manashil’s clients. The funds were then deposited in an account that resembled the agency’s name, but which was controlled by the co-conspirator.
Brown was sentenced in November to 63 months in prison for a fraud that spanned eight years, in which at least nine investors in various film projects were swindled out of more than $12.5 million.
In the letter to the judge, Manashil said he had lost one of his highest-earning clients due to publicity about the case. He said he had also had to remove himself as a producer on two projects.
Manashil was sentenced on Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in New York. He was ordered to pay restitution, but will not face jail time.