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Actress in scam gets 10 days

January 25, 2007|Greg Krikorian and Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writers

An actress convicted of lying to federal agents about an investment scam involving a bogus television series on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was sentenced to 10 days in federal prison Wednesday for violating probation.

Alison Ann Heruth, 41, broke into tears when U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real imposed the sentence after authorities toldhow Heruth had failed to find regular employment, fell short of her required hours of community service and broke a pledge to pay $250 each month in court-ordered restitution.

Last summer, Heruth was sentenced to five years' probation and 2,500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $3.4 million in restitution, after admitting that she lied to federal agents about her role in a scam to bilk dozens of people out of millions of dollars.

The victims believed they were investing in a television show about the Homeland Security Department, only to discover that their money went to finance a lavish lifestyle for Heruth and the mastermind of the fraud, producer Joseph Medawar. Heruth supposedly was to star in the show.

Medawar was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and also ordered to pay restitution and perform community service.

During Wednesday's brief court hearing, Heruth's attorney, Edward Robinson, told the judge his client has been seeking employment and has been cleaning houses in Minnesota, where she lives. He also said that though she had fallen behind in her community service and required monthly restitution, she had recently increased her hours of community service and had actually paid slightly more than required so far by the court.

Robinson also urged Real to keep Heruth on probation rather than send her to prison because "the consequences of incarceration would be devastating" to her four daughters, two of whom are minors.

But Assistant U.S. Atty. David Willingham told the judge that Heruth should be sent to prison because she appeared indifferent to abiding by the court's conditions for probation.

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