An investigation into the identity of some investors in the stalled Broadway production of the musical "Rebecca" found that the individuals listed as funding sources by Long Island businessman Mark Hotton were fictitious, an attorney for the producer said late Sunday.
"Following an extensive search over the last week, I can now confirm that there is no evidence whatever that 'Paul Abrams' or any of the other three investors brought to this production by Mr. Hotton ever existed," attorney Ron Russo said in an email to reporters.
Russo represents producer Ben Sprecher, one of the general partners of the limited partnership put together to fund the musical adaptation of "Rebecca," which was supposed to go into production last month. But when the additional promised investors didn't materialize, the show was halted. Last week, Sprecher said he was still determined to produce the show.
After the story about the problems surrounding "Rebecca" surfaced last week, Russo said he hired private investigators to find out if investors that he said Hotton brought to the show were, in fact, real people. One name that surfaced was that of Abrams, who supposedly traveled between London and South Africa, Russo said.
Abrams' alleged death over the summer precipitated what Russo said was a malicious, anonymous email on Sept. 28 to a real investor who became jittery about the deal. The email was directly responsible for the investor pulling money out and postponing the production, the attorney said. Russo said he was investigating to determine the source of the email.
Numerous law enforcement sources, Broadway executives and Russo have acknowledged that the matter of the musical's financing has been referred to federal investigators in New York.
Hotton, who lives with his wife and four children in Babylon Cove, has been accused in a number of lawsuits of fraud and other misdeeds during his career, which included a stint as a former executive at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., court records show. In all of the cases, Hotton denied wrongdoing. Hotton, 46, is currently in bankruptcy proceedings in Brooklyn federal court, claiming debts of more than $15 million and assets of less than $1 million.
Hotton couldn't be reached for comment late Sunday.