Manhattan man pleads guilty to 'Producers' scheme

Posted at 9:35 PM, Apr 26, 2017

 A Manhattan resident on Wednesday pleaded guilty to conning several investors into giving him money intended to fund the production of a fake Broadway play, according to Manhattan district attorney spokesman Justin Henry.

Roland Scahill pleaded guilty to three counts of grand larceny in the third degree and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree, according to court documents. The former talent agent owes $189,885 to the various investors he was accused of taking money from.

"Through his elaborate overtures to investors, Roland Scahill scammed patrons of the arts to the tune of more than $200,000. We are pleased to have brought his larcenous scheme to a grand finale," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus B. Vance said in a statement.

Scahill's scheme bears a striking resemblance to Mel Brooks' Broadway musical, "The Producers" in which a producer and his accountant try to bilk victims by getting them to invest in a musical that is intended to fail.

But Scahill didn't have plans for his musical to fail, because he didn't have plans to make the show happen at all, authorities claimed.

He allegedly told investors he was creating a Broadway play about the life of Kathleen Battle, a famous opera singer, called "The KB Project."

Scahill allegedly created an elaborate storyline for his investors, telling them he had secured the life rights to Battle's story, Lupita Nyongo'o had agreed to play the leading role and the show would play at the famed Booth Theater.

In his plea statement, Schahill wrote, "All of these representations were false."

Over a nine-month long period, Scahill convinced 10 sets of investors to donate money to his project, according to court documents. All of those investments were deposited into two bank accounts. Scahill was the sole signatory on both of those accounts, according to his plea statement.

In the plea, Scahill writes that he used the investors' money for "personal expenditures" and "to purchase and trade securities."

Scahill paid $100,000 of his debts when he pleaded guilty. He must pay the remaining $89,885 within the next six months. If he does so, he will receive a six-month prison sentence followed by five years' probation with ongoing mental health treatment, according to a spokesman for the prosecutor. If he fails to pay, he could face additional jail time, according to court documents.

CNN has reached out to Scahill's attorney for comment.