CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Mark Hotton appeared on the high-stakes Broadway theater scene out of nowhere this year, offering to come to the financial rescue of a fledgling Broadway adaptation of the psychological thriller “Rebecca.”
Although the musical’s producers had never heard of Hotton, he successfully sold himself as a globe-trotting moneyman with connections to a wealthy Australian named Paul Abrams. That was before Hotton raised suspicions by claiming that Abrams had suddenly dropped dead.
Federal prosecutors charged Hotton on Monday with concocting a tale of phantom investors and an untimely death as imaginative as the classic Alfred Hitchcock film about a man haunted by the memory of his dead first wife.
Hotton, 46, also was charged in two other swindles — one targeting a Connecticut-based real estate company and another that investigators said involved his wife and sister on Long Island.
A judge in federal court in Long Island ordered Hotton held without bail Monday after prosecutors argued he was a flight risk.
In court papers, the government accused Hotton of creating a web of shell companies they likened to a Ponzi scheme that victimized people across the country to the tune of $15 million.
Hotton, a former stockbroker who lost his license last year, managed to “lull some investors into a temporary sense of security by allowing them to realize small returns on investments, while the remainder funded the Hottons’ lifestyle, which included pleasure boats registered to others and waterfront property,” the papers say.
He was to appear at another proceeding later in the week to face other charges he “perpetrated stranger-than-fiction frauds both on and off Broadway,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.