LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A former Los Angeles resident was arrested at her home in Minnesota this morning on charges of lying about her knowledge of an alleged investment scam being run by her longtime associate who falsely told victims they were investing in a television series based on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Alison Ann Heruth, 41, who purported to be the lead actress in the DHS show, was named in an indictment that accuses her of making false statements to federal investigators and concealing the scheme from authorities.
According to the 34-count superseding indictment, beginning in as early as May 2003 and continuing through September 2005, Joseph M. Medawar, the purported producer of “DHS: The Series,” solicited investors to buy stock in his production company, Steeple Entertainment. Medawar claimed that the production company would soon be conducting an initial public offering, that Steeple had hired a well-known investment bank to conduct that initial public offering and that Steeple had a valuation of over $200 million. As part of the alleged scam, Medawar and others falsely claimed that the DHS television series had the endorsement of President George W. Bush and the real Department of Homeland Security, and that Steeple had 26 episodes of “DHS” in post-production. In addition to alleging that these claims were false, the superseding indictment states that the California Department of Corporations had issued a desist and refrain order directing Medawar to stop selling securities in California.
Instead of being used to finance the DHS television show, investor funds allegedly were diverted to Medawar, Heruth and others to pay for personal expenses, such as home rentals, jewelry, child care, food and entertainment, and automobile leases.
Medawar is charged in the superseding indictment with six counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of money laundering, two counts of endeavoring to obstruct the federal criminal investigation, two tax-related offenses, and three counts of making false statements to the FBI.
Heruth, who also uses the name Alison Heruth-Waterbury, is charged in the superseding Indictment with two counts of misprision of a felony and one count of making false statements to the FBI and the IRS.
If convicted on all counts, Medawar could be sentenced to a statutory maximum penalty of 449 years in federal prison, and Heruth could be sentenced to a statutory maximum penalty of 11 years in federal prison.
Medawar is free on a $1 million bond. Heruth is expected to make her initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Minneapolis.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a related matter, the former chief financial officer of Steeple has pleaded guilty to federal charges for concealing the scheme from federal investigators. Jeffrey Rosenberg, 57, of Studio City, the former Steeple CFO, pleaded guilty in December to a charge of misprision of a felony for concealing the “DHS” investor fraud scam.
In a plea agreement filed this morning in United States District Court in Los Angeles, Rosenberg acknowledged that during his employment at Steeple he was aware and had full knowledge that Medawar was making materially false statements to investors in an effort to defraud those investors. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Christine C. Ewell
Chief, Major Frauds Section
Assistant United States Attorney David Willingham
Deputy Chief, Major Frauds Section