California Woman Charged in Studio Fraud Case

A California woman scammed investors out of millions of dollars with claims that she had Hollywood backing to build a movie studio complex, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

The 32-count indictment charges Carissa Carpenter, 51, with mail fraud, wire fraud and three counts of making a false statement to a government agent.

Carpenter began pitching a Northern California film studio in 1997 and claimed to have invested hundreds of millions of dollars of her own money in the project and to have support from influential Hollywood producers and directors, prosecutors said.

The proposed sites for the studio included Dixon, Lathrop and the former naval base on Mare Island in Vallejo.

Prosecutors said Hollywood figures had little or no involvement in the project and that Carpenter told investors that she had secured funding and needed bridge loans, even though no such funding existed.

Carpenter is accused of using the investor money to fund an extravagant lifestyle. She was arrested in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, said Carpenter did not have an attorney listed in records.

The indictment did not specify the Hollywood figures whose support Carpenter claimed to have.

Investors, firms that did work for Carpenter and municipalities lost more than $5 million in the project, according to prosecutors.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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