A man has been indicted for stealing from investors who believed he was producing a Broadway play based on the life of a famous opera singer and starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, prosecutors said. The production was allegedly an investment scheme that netted him $165,000.
Roland Scahill, 41, has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny and scheme to defraud in the theatre con, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Scahill is accused of stealing from seven people in less than three months, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said. He allegedly told investors that he had "secured Kathleen Battle’s life rights, that Lupita Nyong’o had agreed to star in the production, and that Broadway’s historic Booth Theatre had agreed to run the show,” Vance added. “Even worse, in an attempt to steal additional money from those he had already victimized, Scahill is alleged to have told the investors that he secured a contract with Netflix to film the play and make it available to its millions of subscribers.”
Representatives for Battle, Nyong’o and the Booth Theatre said they were never approached by Scahill or had any contracts with him regarding the play.
Scahill, whoowns a production company called RMS2 Productions, conned his investors early on by telling them they needed to shell out $15,000 per share in order to gain more from subsequent book or film deals based on the play before it was too late, prosecutors said.
But by the fall of 2015, several investors demanded their money back, and when Scahill allegedly sent them their checks, the bounded, and he cut off all contact from his victims.
Prosecutors say he spent the stolen money on personal expenses, including more than $129,000 on stocks and stock option contracts; about $23,000 in personal credit card payments; $18,000 to pay rent for his apartment; and nearly $10,000 on food, alcohol and entertainment purchases.