A Minnesota actress was sentenced Monday to five years probation for helping cover up a scam that authorities say bilked dozens of people out of $5.5 million invested in a fake TV series about the Department of Homeland Security.
Alison Heruth, 41, of Oakdale, Minn., was also ordered by a federal judge to perform community service and pay restitution. She had faced up to three years in prison.
Under a deal with prosecutors, Heruth pleaded guilty in April to one felony count of making false statements to federal agents. In return, prosecutors agreed to recommend probation.
Heruth was named in a revised indictment alleging Hollywood producer Joseph Medawar told investors about the show, which he claimed was endorsed by President Bush, and that his production company was about to sell stock worth more than $200 million. As part of the scheme, federal prosecutors said Medawar falsely claimed 26 episodes of "DHS: The Series" were in post-production and his company already had distribution deals with 137 overseas markets.
Heruth, who used the name Alison Heruth-Waterbury when she co-starred with "ER" actor Goran Visnjic in a Croatian movie, said in interviews that she was to co-produce and star in "DHS."
Medawar pleaded guilty in May to tax evasion and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison and $9 million in fines when he is sentenced.
Prosecutors said Medawar spent most of the investor funds on cars, housing, child care, jewelry and expensive meals for himself and his associates.
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