Court dismisses criminal case against film director

By Jim Holt

Last update: Friday, March 24th, 2017

The criminal case against a film director accused of bilking more than $21 million from people investing in the 2009 movie “Not Forgotten,” has been dismissed.

Dror Soref, 66, and Michelle Seward of Valencia, 44, were each charged with 56 counts of securities fraud, 15 counts of sale of unregistered securities and one count of device, scheme or artifice to defraud a securities transaction, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

They were arrested in the fall of 2015 on suspicion of bilking several people in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Over the last five months Soref has appeared off and on in Los Angeles Superior Court for a preliminary hearing held to determine if there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

A week ago, the court ruled Soref would not be held to answer to the charges filed against him.

“On March 16, 2017, the case was dismissed after not being held to answer at the preliminary hearing,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Friday.

The Valencia woman co-accused in the same case, however, is still scheduled to appear in court next week.

Michelle Seward waived her right to a preliminary hearing in November.  She is scheduled to appear in court Thursday on the charges filed against her.

Soref, a filmmaker who worked on a Weird Al Yankovic music video in 1985, remained in custody since his arrest in 2015, at the North County Correctional Facility of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.

Now he is free to go, Santiago said Friday.

The alleged Ponzi scam spanned from 2007 to 2010 and involved nearly 140 investors, most of whom were elderly, prosecutors said.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Cartaya of the White Collar Crime Division said in an interview last year that Seward allegedly gave presentations during which people were encouraged to invest their life savings or equity in their homes.

Victims purchased unqualified, non-exempt securities to help raise money for the Soref-directed film “Not Forgotten,” according to Cartaya. They were promised double-digit returns on their investments that carried no risk, the prosecutor said. Some victims lost as much as $395,000.

Both Seward and Soref were jointly accused of using money from new investors to pay prior victims as well as pay themselves and their employees.

Total losses are estimated at $21.5 million.

 

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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Court dismisses criminal case against film director

Film director Dror Soref.

The criminal case against a film director accused of bilking more than $21 million from people investing in the 2009 movie “Not Forgotten,” has been dismissed.

Dror Soref, 66, and Michelle Seward of Valencia, 44, were each charged with 56 counts of securities fraud, 15 counts of sale of unregistered securities and one count of device, scheme or artifice to defraud a securities transaction, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

They were arrested in the fall of 2015 on suspicion of bilking several people in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Over the last five months Soref has appeared off and on in Los Angeles Superior Court for a preliminary hearing held to determine if there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

A week ago, the court ruled Soref would not be held to answer to the charges filed against him.

“On March 16, 2017, the case was dismissed after not being held to answer at the preliminary hearing,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Friday.

The Valencia woman co-accused in the same case, however, is still scheduled to appear in court next week.

Michelle Seward waived her right to a preliminary hearing in November.  She is scheduled to appear in court Thursday on the charges filed against her.

Soref, a filmmaker who worked on a Weird Al Yankovic music video in 1985, remained in custody since his arrest in 2015, at the North County Correctional Facility of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.

Now he is free to go, Santiago said Friday.

The alleged Ponzi scam spanned from 2007 to 2010 and involved nearly 140 investors, most of whom were elderly, prosecutors said.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Cartaya of the White Collar Crime Division said in an interview last year that Seward allegedly gave presentations during which people were encouraged to invest their life savings or equity in their homes.

Victims purchased unqualified, non-exempt securities to help raise money for the Soref-directed film “Not Forgotten,” according to Cartaya. They were promised double-digit returns on their investments that carried no risk, the prosecutor said. Some victims lost as much as $395,000.

Both Seward and Soref were jointly accused of using money from new investors to pay prior victims as well as pay themselves and their employees.

Total losses are estimated at $21.5 million.

 

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

Jim Holt

Jim Holt