LOS ANGELES — A California man is accused of using the name of the production company behind “I Love Lucy” and “Star Trek” to defraud investors, prosecutors announced Thursday.
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Charles Hensley, 68, of Redondo Beach, has been charged with 11 counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated impersonation, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. .
Prosecutors allege that from August 2017 to May 2018, Hensley used “Desilu” – the same name as the company founded by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1950 – to successfully initiate investments in companies he owned, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The companies were called Desilu Studios Inc. and Migranade Inc., which he operated from offices in Manhattan Beach and other Southern California locations, prosecutors said.
Hensley claimed his business Desilu Studios was legitimate and successful, but prosecutors say they were shell companies, the entertainment outlet reported. Prosecutors said Hensley allegedly provided investors with “false and misleading” valuation letters that showed Desilu Studios was worth more than $11 billion and Migranade was valued at more than $50 million.
“Hensley attracted investors by saying he was reviving the Desilu brand through Desilu Studios, which claimed to be a modern entertainment company engaged in film and television production, merchandising, content delivery, theme parks and entertainment. cinemas,” prosecutors said.
The Justice Department claimed Hensley used the investments for personal gain, including the purchase of a car title lending company and a pawnshop, the press release said. He also used the funds to pay for trips to Las Vegas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The scheme allegedly impacted several investors, including some who wired about $331,000, prosecutors said. Hensley also allegedly targeted several businesses in the entertainment industry, convincing owners and executives to sell their businesses to him in exchange for shares of Desilu Studio, which were worthless.
CBS Studios sued Hensley in October 2018, alleging he tried to get support from Lucie Arnaz to revive Desilu, Deadline reported. CBS alleged in the lawsuit that Hensley was trying to use Arnaz’s name to “lead unwitting investors” into a shell company.
Hensley is not in custody and could not be reached for comment, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He will be arraigned in U.S. District Court for arraignment “in the coming weeks,” prosecutors said.
If convicted, Hensley faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud, the press release said. Identity theft charges carry a mandatory two-year sentence.
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