New York talent agent Roland Scahill has pleaded not guilty to charges of scamming seven investors out of $165,000 on a Broadway play, The KB Project, which apparently didn't exist, according to reports on NBC New York and The New York Times.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. charged Scahill with felony counts of criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny and scheme to defraud. He called the show a “phantom production.”
The suit charges Scahill, owner of RMS2 Productions, with presenting himself as lead producer on the solo play, purported to be based on an incident in the life of opera singer Kathleen Battle. Scahill reportedly told the investors that he had engaged Oscar winner Lupita Nyong‘o, star of Broadway's Eclipsed, to play the lead and had booked Broadway's Booth Theatre to present it in. Not only were none of those things apparently true, but Nyong’o, Battle and the Shubert Organization (owner of the Booth) all said Scahill “never approached them and that they never had any deal with him.”
According to court papers cited by NBC, Scahill, a former employee of both the William Morris Agency and, briefly, the Gersh talent agency, sold shares in the non-existent show for $15,000 and got investors to buy extra shares by representing that Netflix had agreed to film and broadcast a performance. Most of the alleged scam took place in 2014 and early 2015. It fell apart in late 2015 when several investors demanded their money back. Scahill reportedly sent them checks that bounced, then ceased all communications with the investors, all of whom the Times described as “close friends of Mr. Scahill.”
The court document said Scahill spent part of the stolen money on rent, food, alcohol, entertainment and credit-card debt, and deposited the rest in an investment account.
Scahill’s lawyer, James R. DeVita, told the Times: “Mr. Scahill has pled not guilty. He’s therefore entitled to the presumption of innocence, and he should receive that.”
Scahill was posting on his Twitter account as late as August 5. A Playbill.com email request for comment bounced back. His email account was apparently closed.
(Updated August 22, 2016)