Thursday, December 15, 2016

Braslau Hearing Date

December 14, 2016
U.S. Department of Justice 
Central District of California 

A hearing is scheduled before Judge R. Klausner on January 23, 2017 01:30 PM at Hearing Location for Judge R. Gary Klausner, Roybal Federal Building and United States Courthouse, 255 E. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 regarding the following defendant(s): SAMUEL BRASLAU. The purpose of this hearing is for the Court to re-determine the sentence to be imposed for the defendant(s). 

Because of the Court's schedule, hearing dates could change on very short notice. If you plan on attending, you may want to call the VNS Call Center or check the website to confirm the date and time. Please note, there is a 24-hour delay in information transfer to the website. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Update - Stuart Rawitt

I received this update today:

December 06, 2016
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Taft Correctional Institution

This notice is to inform you that STUART RAWITT has been approved for a furlough. During a furlough, an inmate is authorized to be absent from the institution in order to participate in specified programs or activities. Inmates who participate in furloughs must meet strict eligibility requirements. Inmate RAWITT has met the eligibility criteria and will be on furlough from this facility from December 19, 2016, to December 20, 2016. While on furlough, the inmate will be in Sheridan, Oregon. 

In addition to the information provided regarding this offender's furlough, the following information is relevant to the inmate's eventual release. The inmate is scheduled to release on August 10, 2019. The inmate is not eligible for parole. 

Will continue to pass on whatever information I receive from the court system relative to the
jailed convicts or the Chortkoff Estate matter.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Update - Braslau

I received this update from the Court on 11/10/16 (interesting):

A hearing is scheduled before Judge R. Klausner on January 23, 2017 01:30 PM at Hearing Location for Western Division Office 2, US Courthouse, 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 regarding the following defendant(s): SAMUEL BRASLAU. The purpose of this hearing is for the Court to re-determine the sentence to be imposed for the defendant(s). 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Chortkoff Estate Hearing

Unfortunately, upon asking the SEC attorney about the
hearing scheduled for 11/7 regarding Chortkoff's estate
paying restitution, this is the response I received:

No – the attorney for the Chortkoff Estate is having some medical issues, so we agreed to postpone the hearing until February 13, 2017.

So disappointing...

Thursday, August 25, 2016


FYI:  I received this email today, 8/25/2016, in response to my inquiry to the attorney for the SEC, Peter Del Greco, in their case against Braslau and the Estate of Rand Chortkoff.

Ms. Anderson:

Judgment was entered against Sam Braslau in May, bringing our action against him to a close.  Because he had already been ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.6 million in the parallel criminal action, we did not seek monetary disgorgement against him.  He is serving a lengthy jail sentence, so I doubt he will be making that restitution payment anytime soon.

Earlier today we filed our motion for summary judgment against the estate of Rand Chortkoff, the sole remaining defendant.  (Mr. Chortkoff died over a year ago, and we substituted his estate as a party.)  We seek disgorgement of a bit more than $160,000 from the estate, which is the amount he received in commissions with interest thereon.  The estate has indicated it will oppose our motion, and a hearing on it is scheduled for November 7 in the US District Court in Los Angeles.  It is open to the public, so if you would like to attend, you can, but if you do, it would be a good idea to get in touch with me a few days prior to make sure it is still going forward at that  time.

Peter Del Greco

Sunday, July 17, 2016


This is a recent local story regarding criminal charges brought against a Minnesota man who engaged in yet another film production scandal.  

Wayzata man accused of defrauding investors

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Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2016 1:18 pm
A Wayzata man could be facing up to 20 years in prison for his alleged role in defrauding investors.
According to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Gerald Seppala, 47, of Wayzata, is charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Seppala and co-conspirators James David Williams and Steven Brown, both of southern California, allegedly defrauded victims out of more than $12 million as part of an advance-fee scheme in which victims were asked to invest in film projects.
“With lies about making feature-length films and documentaries, the defendants allegedly defrauded victims into investing over $12 million with them,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who, with Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York FBI Office, announced the charges on Tuesday, June 28. “Rather than making movies, the defendants perpetrated an advance fee scheme, allegedly using the investors’ money to pay themselves and pay other investors back,” Bharara said.
According to an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, from at least 2012 through June of this year, Williams, Brown and Seppala portrayed themselves as experts in the marketing of feature-length films and documentaries and solicited investments by typically promising guaranteed returns and participation in profits, which never materialized.
In order to solicit these investments, the three made misrepresentations about, among other things, their own investments in the films for which they were soliciting money, as well as investments that they claimed to have received from other investors. To support their claims, they frequently sent the victims falsified financial records that reflected investments that had never actually been made.
Williams and Brown told one victim that the entire investment would be guaranteed by a company called Woodlawn Holdings. In support of these claims, Brown sent the victim’s attorney a letter from someone who claimed to be a “managing member” at Woodlawn guaranteeing the investment, while Williams sent what appeared to be a bank statement for the company responsible for producing the movie, showing a balance of more than $3.5 million.
Subsequent investigation, however, revealed that no one with the supposed managing member’s name worked at Woodlawn, nor had representatives at Woodlawn heard of Williams, Brown or Seppala or the movie they claimed to be making. Investigation of the relevant bank account showed only $500,200 in the account at the time that Williams sent the statement showing a balance of more than $3.5 million.
Williams, Brown and Seppala used the money that was received from investors to fund other projects, pay back previously defrauded investors, or pay their personal expenses. Funds from investors were used for, among other things, the purchases of a home and a car for Williams.
Seppala was arrested in Wayzata on Tuesday, June 28, and was presented and arraigned the same day in St. Paul, before United States Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson. He was formally charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Williams and Brown were each charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiring to commit money laundering.
Conspiring to commit wire fraud and wire fraud each carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison. Conspiring to commit money laundering carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

Monday, May 16, 2016

SEC Summary Judgment Granted Against Braslau/Chortkoff Estate Remains a Defedant

I received the following anonymous e-mail relative to a
summary judgment against Braslau on 5/13/16: 

"Basically, the SEC got a summary judgment and the civil case against Braslau is now terminated with no fine since he still owes the $1.7 million from the criminal case. He is only barred from future securities sales.

Meanwhile, Judge Wright still has the case open against Chortkoff's Estate in this civil court matter.  As we know, Chortkoff was found guilty in the criminal case, but died.

The Judge could have also terminated this civil case against
Chortkoff's estate but did not-can only assume he will
go after the estate big-time."

Monday, May 2, 2016

Update on Status of Defendant Chortkoff in SEC Case

Good News!!! Apparently, the judge in the SEC case has determined
that the Chortkoff Estate should be substituted for deceased defendant
Rand Chortkoff. Below is the email I received from the SEC attorney today.
Further updates will be posted as the SEC case progresses.

I just received notice today that the Court has ruled in our favor and allowed us to substitute the Chortkoff Estate for the deceased Rand Chortkoff.  As a practical matter, that means that our action can proceed against the Estate.  It is not a final determination that Mr. Chortkoff or his estate is liable – it simply means we can attempt to demonstrate that Mr. Chortkoff defrauded investors and, if we succeed in proving that,  that we can hold his Estate liable for any harm that he caused.

Peter Del Greco

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Current Status of SEC Civil Case

Braslau's motion to stay the SEC civil case was denied in December, 2015:


Relative to Chortkoff remaining a defendant in the SEC civil case,
the following information was received by Peter DelGreco,
SEC attorney:

Chortkoff’s death certificate was issued on May 21, 2015.  A woman named Tammie Barnum, who is represented by the attorney Katerina Perreault, was named executor of Chortkoff’s estate in October.  The SEC has filed a motion with the Court to substitute the Chortkoff estate for the deceased Rand Chortkoff as a defendant in our action.  A hearing on the motion is set for February 23, 2016.  

UPDATE AS OF 2/19/16: 

Our case against Mr. Chortkoff concerned an investment opportunity known as Mutual Entertainment, LLC (later known as Film Shoot, LLC).  The Court took the hearing that was scheduled for Monday off-calendar, and will issue a ruling based on the papers each side submitted.

February 23.