Hollywood Business Manager: I Stole From Alanis Morissette and Other Clients and I'm Sorry (Guest Column)

Jonathan Schwartz, who pleaded guilty Jan. 18 to embezzling from clients including Alanis Morissette, pens an essay of contrition and caution for THR.
Courtesy of Jonathan Schwartz

Former Power Business Manager Jonathan Schwartz is due to be sentenced May 3, after pleading guilty to criminal charges in connection with stealing millions from clients — including Alanis Morissette. Both the singer and his former employer have sued Schwartz, although he settled with the star. Here, in his own words, he shares part of his story and promises to make amends to those he has wronged.

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To My Community:

I am writing this open letter to you so that you can learn from my mistakes and never find yourself in the situation I am now in. I am a convicted felon who has fully accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty to federal charges related to my embezzling over $7 million from my clients and business partners over a six-year period and not paying tax on it.

I used to have it all — a great family, a job that I loved and high-profile clients that I represented, partners whom I respected and respected me, and a reputation in the community for hard work, excellent service, and commitment to charities that helped the less fortunate. I had never run afoul of the law before. Now I have lost it all and face going to prison for years. How did I end up throwing it all away?

The answer, in part, is that since college I was a gambling addict. I should have been more careful when I first started gambling socially because my father was a gambling addict who abandoned the family when I was young. Over the years, my gambling addiction grew, particularly as I became more successful. With that success came very high levels of stress to constantly meet my clients’ demands and constantly compete with others in the industry to be the best. I often turned to drugs to deal with the stress but mostly sought refuge in the world of sports gambling. The spiral I was in was toxic. Winning did not make me feel better but losing was intolerable. If I lost, then I had to make it back and when I lost again, the hole I had dug got deeper and deeper. I felt weak and powerless, terrified by my internal demons that I was turning into my father.

I lived a double life since no one other than my bookie knew I had this “dark” side. At first, I “borrowed” a little from clients, with the hopes that I would pay them back if I won that night’s bet. That snowballed, and as I kept losing, I kept stealing. I kept telling myself that I just needed one lucky break, and I’ll pay them back. That lucky break never came — thankfully. I say thankfully because when I was finally caught, a bright spotlight shined on my deplorable conduct. I could not hide any longer and hit rock bottom. By seeing how pathetic I had become, I finally got the courage to ask for help.

As a result of incredible friends and my sponsor, I am now 336 days sober after committing myself wholeheartedly to the Beit T’shuvah intensive outpatient program and the Gambler’s Anonymous program and meetings.

To say I am incredibly ashamed and disappointed in myself is an understatement. I have hurt everyone I cared about, my family, clients, business partners, employees, peers and friends. I had a fiduciary responsibility to serve my clients, and I violated that trust. I let everybody down, and for that I will spend the rest of my life asking for forgiveness and making amends to everyone I have hurt. The road to recovery goes one day at a time, but I now have a much better and clearer understanding of what really matters and have devoted my life to getting there.

Part of my amends include making sure that others who might be in my former situation, in super stressful jobs where the demands feel overwhelming, do not turn to drugs or gambling to deal with the stress or violate their responsibilities to others hoping no one will notice, but seek help from those around them or treatment before it is too late. Please use me as an example of what can go disastrously wrong when you start down the wrong path. Please, please follow a different path.

Most sincerely,
Jonathan Schwartz

 

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