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Attorney: Plea deal closer in 'Rebecca' fraud case

An exterior view of the Broadhurst Theatre, where

An exterior view of the Broadhurst Theatre, where the musical, "Rebecca," was to open in Manhattan. The play was ultimately cancelled due to lack of financing. (Oct. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

A Long Island businessman accused of fraud involving the Broadway show "Rebecca: The Musical" is moving closer to a plea deal, it was revealed in federal court in Manhattan Thursday.

"We are probably halfway there," said defense attorney Ira London in court about the status of plea negotiations for Mark Hotton of West Islip, the businessman who faces charges that his plan to pump $4.5 million into the long-awaited production was an elaborate fraud involving fictitious investors.

In a hearing before Judge John G. Koeltl, London and assistant U.S. attorney Zachary Feingold indicated they were also trying to work out a bail package that would free Hotton. Koeltl gave both attorneys until next week to continue discussions about what financial arrangements could be worked out to secure a bail package.

London added that Hotton had an offer of a job as a "theatrical teamster" if he got out of jail.

Hotton, 46, is prepared to use a family home on Babylon Cove, which is owned by his wife, Sherri, as security for a bail package, said London, who put the market value of the dwelling at more than $4 million. But Feingold said the government was concerned that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District were seeking to forfeit some of the property in a second criminal case.

Hotton allegedly promised that he had located some overseas financial backers to help producer Ben Sprecher with "Rebecca," so the show could launch last year. But those backers were fabricated by Hotton, who collected tens of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses in the process, according to the federal charges. Hotton was also accused in the case of a $750,000 scam involving a real estate deal.

Feingold and London agreed the case could reach a plea deal by late June. If convicted Hotton faces up to 40 years in prison.

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