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Producer Joseph Medawar gets longer resentence in scam

Originally given a lenient term after bilking investors, producer Joseph Medawar is resentenced to four years because of cheating on his community service.

January 19, 2011|By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
  • Joseph Medawar had been sentenced to just probation after a fraud conviction for scamming friends and business colleagues out of millions of dollars for a bogus television show.
Joseph Medawar had been sentenced to just probation after a fraud conviction…

A former Hollywood producer whose lenient sentence on a 2006 fraud conviction outraged his victims and led to reversal by a federal appeals court drew a fresh four-year sentence Tuesday for padding his community service hours to go to movies and the gym.

U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real ordered Joseph Medawar to prison for 45 months for violating the probation to which he was sentenced after "scamming" friends and business colleagues out of millions of dollars with a bogus television show. Real also accused Medawar of deceiving his court, which had given him a break when originally sentencing him to only a year and a day in prison and later reducing it to probation.


FOR THE RECORD:
Medawar fraud case: An article in the Jan. 19 LATExtra section about the sentencing of former Hollywood producer Joseph Medawar for probation violations reported that the former chief financial officer of his Steeple Productions company, Jeffrey Rosenberg, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for lying to federal agents about fraud. The court later amended Rosenberg's sentence to five years' probation and 2,000 hours of community service. —

Real, whose erratic sentences have led to accusations of judicial misconduct and disciplinary procedures, had sentenced Medawar to a term far below federal guidelines for swindling about 70 investors with his purported reality series about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The judge deviated from the recommended sentencing range of 57 to 71 months, without explanation. After a unanimous panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the sentence in March 2008, Real resentenced Medawar to just supervised probation.

Medawar, 48, also was ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution to the defrauded investors and to perform 3,000 hours of community service. His attorney, Darryl Snider, told the court Tuesday that Medawar had repaid about $21,000 to his victims so far.

Federal authorities brought Medawar back to court for probation violations, including skipping out during the hours he was supposed to be cleaning up at Peck Park Community Center north of San Pedro. Assistant U.S. Atty. Jean-Claude Andre told Real that Medawar spent the time going to films, working out at a gym or putting in hours at his paid job in a family jewelry business.

Snider appealed to Real to give Medawar another chance to pay back his victims by letting him remain free and working. The onetime producer made a brief statement, apologizing to the court and saying he took responsibility for his actions.

Real ordered Medawar back to prison and said the 45-month term was not to be reduced by the 317 days served in pretrial custody and on his original sentence.

"Mr. Medawar was and is a scam performer," Real stated with a steely glare at the defendant. "He scammed people from whom he took money … and he scammed this court."

Medawar, dressed in a suit and tie, showed little emotion over his sentence and declined to comment as he left the courtroom. He was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service by Feb. 14 to begin serving his term.

In May 2006, Medawar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and income tax evasion for the fake reality TV project, having used investors' money on luxury cars, high-rolling dinners and shopping sprees and a $40,000-a-month Beverly Hills mansion for the show's purported lead actress, Alison Heruth-Waterbury.

Heruth-Waterbury, charged as a codefendant in the fraud, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years' probation. Jeffrey Rosenberg, former chief financial officer of Medawar's Steeple Productions company, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for lying to agents about the fraud.

carol.williams@latimes.com

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