Arraignment for Ponzi scheme suspect moved to July

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Of the two people arrested in the same alleged Ponzi scheme for allegedly bilking more than $21 million from people investing in the 2009 movie “Not Forgotten,” only one is left facing criminal charges.

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.

Only Seward, however, remains scheduled to be arraigned – or formally charged – in Los Angeles Superior Court.

She appeared in court Thursday as scheduled but instead of being arraigned, was ordered to appear back in court this summer, Sarah Ardalani, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

Seward is now set to be arraigned on July 11.

Her co-accused in the case found himself a free man recently when prosecutors dismissed the case against him.

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.

Two weeks 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 two suspects took different paths through the court system early on in their respective cases, each of them appearing in court at different times.

Those paths became markedly divergent in November when both suspects appeared in court for a preliminary hearing.

Seward waived her right to a preliminary hearing and was ordered to appear back in court Dec. 2 to be arraigned, meaning she would be formally charged and on her way to trial.

Soref, however, saw his prelim stretched over five months, at the end of which a judge ruled he should not be held to answer to the criminal charges against him.

Each of 71 counts spelled out in the 42-page felony complaint initially filed against the pair alleges they violated sections of California’s Corporations Code when they did “knowingly and willfully” offer and sell securities that were not “qualified” by California’s Commissioner of Corporations.

Prosecutors allege the illegal sale of securities began Nov. 27, 2007, and continued until May 10, 2011, and involved 22 victims, according to the criminal complaint.

The two were, initially, jointly accused of bilking people — many of them seniors — out of their life savings in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, Lindsey Hart, spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance, a consumer watchdog agency, told The Signal late 2015.

Soref won the Gold Hugo Award for Best Film for his 1998 film “Platinum Blonde.” In 2009, he directed “Not Forgotten” starring Simon Baker, who is known for his lead role in TV’s “The Mentalist.”

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