Disbarred attorney scammed film partners in movie making deal
A Woodland Hills attorney has been stripped of his law
license for misappropriating nearly $1 million intended for movie projects. Robert
M. Victor [#156232],
47, was disbarred April 7, 2013 and ordered to make restitution and comply with
rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
Two different film
companies had entered into agreements with Victor's client, Rosemax Media LLC,
in 2011 under the auspices that they would be working together to produce films. The
film companies, Triton Films Inc. and SBDL Productions LLC, wired their
investment money to Victor's client trust account with the understanding that Rosemax would also
invest in the film project. The consolidated funds were to remain untouched in the trust account until all agreements involving the films were
finalized and executed.
Instead, Rosemax never followed through with its agreed-upon
investments, and Victor immediately began to disburse money at the request of
Rosemax CEO Joseph Q. Bretz. Less than two days after Triton deposited the
first $375,000 of its $500,000 investment in a movie to be called “The Zone,” Victor
had removed all of Triton’s funds through transfers to his firm and various
parties. Similarly, SBDL’s $475,000 investment in a film titled “Light Years” shrank to $33,336.10 within three days of deposit.
Both Triton and SBDL asked for confirmation that Rosemax had
deposited the money it had agreed to, $1.5 million in the case of Triton and
$925,000 per its agreement with SBDL. After the companies continued
pressing the issue, Victor provided them with account statements which turned
out to be bogus, bearing no reference to Victor or his firm and a different
account number than Victor’s client trust account. Even after SBDL filed a
civil action in court accusing Victor of conversion, fraud, negligence and
racketeering, Victor continued to draw on the company’s funds in his trust
The State Bar Court found Victor culpable of two counts of
misappropriation and two counts of failure to cooperate in a State Bar
investigation. At the time of the court’s Sept. 21,
2012 disbarment recommendation, Victor had not repaid any of the money to
Triton or SBDL.
At trial, Victor argued that Rosemax’s CEO Bretz had
swindled both him and the two companies and “spent considerable time and energy
seeking to explain how impressive and charismatic Bretz was in the
entertainment world,” State Bar Court Judge Donald F. Miles wrote in his
Miles dispelled that notion, saying Triton and SBDL had taken
steps to protect themselves from Bretz and were only put at risk because Victor
disregarded his fiduciary duties.
“When your sole job is to protect the henhouse, you are not
allowed to trust the fox with the chickens, no matter how reassuring that
carnivore may purport to be,” Miles wrote.