Former Peace Arch exec indicted

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Former Peace Arch Entertainment CEO Gary Howsam has been indicted by a federal grand jury for creating a ruse that included falsifying international distribution agreements in order to secure $7 million in financing for the film "Going Back."

The eight-page indictment filed Nov. 20 lists seven counts against Howsam for fraud. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Howsam's attorney, Donald Randolph, could not be reached for comment. Shortly after his client's arrest, he said the government's case "is an accusation and nothing more. What actually occurs in these cases will play itself out in a period of months."

As CEO of Canadian indie film company Greenlight Film & Television, Howsam is accused of partnering with international sales agent Hilltop Entertainment to create fake and forged documents that appeared to be real international distribution deals with foreign companies for "Going Back."

The companies Howsam claimed were on board for international distribution include Television Francaise 1, Tele-Munchen, Eagle Pictures, Gaga Media and Filmax/Sogedasa.

The fake documents allegedly were created after actual distribution deals fell short. Howsam needed the deals to use as collateral to secure a $7 million bank loan for the film from Comerica Bank of California, according to the indictment.

Howsam was arrested Nov. 5 during the American Film Market in Santa Monica after a three-year probe by the federal government. Hilltop's Harel Goldstein agreed to work with the feds after striking a plea deal, according to court papers.

During that period, Howsam produced dozens of genre pictures for Greenlight. Most recently, he co-produced Showtime's "The Tudors" as head of Peace Arch Entertainment.

On Monday, Peace Arch confirmed Howsam, who holds a 21% stake in Toronto-based Peace Arch, voluntarily resigned after his arrest. He had been placed on administrative leave by the company and replaced as interim CEO by former CBS Entertainment boss and Peace Arch shareholder Jeff Sagansky.

Howsam was released on $500,000 bond, surrendered his passport and was fitted with an electronic monitoring device. He is set to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles federal court.

Leslie Simmons reported from Los Angeles; Etan Vlessing reported from Toronto.
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