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Mark Hotton sentenced to prison for defrauding 'Rebecca' producers

Mark Hotton leaves federal court in Central Islip

Mark Hotton leaves federal court in Central Islip in this 2013 photo. Photo Credit: James Carbone

The Long Island scam artist who ripped off the producers of the Broadway musical "Rebecca" was sentenced to 34 months in prison in federal court in Manhattan on Friday in the first of two cases where he faces jail time.

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said Mark Hotton of West Islip, who has already served 23 months in prison, engaged in "duplicitous" schemes to get fees from "Rebecca" and a Connecticut real estate company for lining up nonexistent investors.

"The defendant engaged in two sets of blatant frauds that resulted in a loss of more than $400,000 to the victims," Koeltl said.

Hotton, 48, a former stockbroker, also faces sentencing in federal court in Central Islip in November for separate scams in which he sold phony accounts receivable to companies in Louisiana and Michigan for $3.7 million.

He did not speak but referred Koeltl to a letter he wrote the judge from jail, portraying himself as a self-made family man who once made $600,000 a year and gave to charity, but then took shortcuts to raise funds needed to save jobs at two businesses he owned.

"My need for quick advance fees outweighed my intention to work completely honest," Hotton said in the 10-page handwritten note.

His letter also said he was "truly sorry," had taken "five different Bible study courses" in jail since his bail was revoked last year for lying, and was ready to stop sinning.

"I promise to follow all rules and procedures necessary for a good, loving citizen and family man," he wrote.

Hotton allegedly made phony claims that he could provide $4 million in financing for "Rebecca," and then when he didn't he falsely claimed a major investor had died of malaria on a safari. The fraud made headlines in 2012 when the much ballyhooed production collapsed.

"These elaborate schemes derailed a Broadway production that was going to employ hundreds of people and entertain thousands of theatergoers," prosecutor Ed Diskant told the judge.

Hotton pleaded guilty last year. He faced 33 to 41 months under federal sentencing guidelines. Koeltl also ordered him to repay $68,000 to the producers of "Rebecca" -- the fees he received for raising money -- and to forfeit $500,000.

Ben Sprecher, the producer of "Rebecca," attended the sentencing. Sprecher, who plans to revive "Rebecca" next fall, said he tried and failed to get Hotton to look him in the eye.

"He did a terrible thing," Sprecher said.

Hotton's lawyer called the sentence "fair."

In the Long Island case, Hotton pleaded guilty last year to a money laundering conspiracy involving scams dating to 1995, including embezzling from an employee benefit fund.

He tried to cooperate with prosecutors after pleading but was not offered a deal. His lawyer told Koeltl he still deserves credit for cooperating, because it led to a guilty plea from his wife, who was charged in the same conspiracy.

Guidelines call for Hotton to get 135 to 168 months at his sentencing in Central Islip federal court, scheduled for Nov. 14.

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