Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The producers of “Rebecca: The Musical” added a press agent to their pending lawsuit against a man charged with inventing investors who were purportedly prepared to save the Broadway musical.
The producers, Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, filed the original suit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in October, seeking more than $100 million from Mark Christopher Hotton and his wife, who they claim sabotaged their $12 million musical with an elaborate fraud.
Mark Hotton, a former Oppenheimer & Co. broker, was arrested Oct. 15 at his West Islip, New York, home and charged with wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said Hotton fabricated investors ready to put $4.5 million into the show and a possible $1.1 million loan to get tens of thousands of dollars in purported expenses and fees from the producers.
Hotton pleaded not guilty.
Sprecher and Forlenza filed an amended complaint yesterday adding their press representative, Marc Thibodeau, to the state court suit and accusing him of sending e-mails to a man, and his lawyers, who was prepared to invest in the production just before it collapsed, causing the unidentified man to back out.
“Thibodeau’s conduct was intended to, and did, have the result of causing the loss of the angel investor’s investment,” the producers said in the new complaint. “Thibodeau knew and intended that the angel investor’s refusal to proceed with its investment would prevent the musical from going forward unless replacement financing could be found.”
The press agent’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said in an e-mailed statement that Thibodeau is an “innocent whistle-blower with an impeccable reputation on Broadway who anonymously warned an innocent investor not to sink $2 million into the sinking ship that was ‘Rebecca.’”.
Lichtman said his client discovered Hotton was “knee-deep in fraud” after a 10-second Google search.
“When Marc warned Sprecher about these obvious red flags, Sprecher replied, ‘We’re not going to talk about this any more,’” and focused on Hotton’s continuing to raise money for the show, Lichtman said.
In a Sept. 28, 2012, e-mail, Thibodeau warned the unidentified investor that “the walls are about to cave in on Mr. Sprecher and the Rebecca Broadway production,” the producers said in the amended complaint. Thibodeau used the pseudonym “Sarah Finkelstein.”
Ron Russo, a lawyer for the producers, declined to name the investor who received the e-mail.
“He was a wealthy guy who didn’t want to be identified as a Broadway investor,” Russo said in an interview.
Russo said the producers were able to identify Thibodeau as the author of the e-mails after subpoenaing records of Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. as part of the suit.
The case is Rebecca Broadway Limited Partnership v. Hotton, 653659/2012, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).