A former Belvedere resident who founded an electronic entertainment firm has been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on charges of defrauding investors of $30 million.
Samuel "Mouli" Cohen, 52, a founder of San Francisco-based Ecast Inc., was charged in a sealed indictment on July 15 with 19 counts of wire fraud and 13 counts of money laundering.
U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Jack Gillund said Cohen was arrested Aug. 5 and made an initial appearance in federal court in Los Angeles on Aug. 6. The indictment was unsealed after the arrest.
Cohen was a co-founder in 1999 of San Francisco-based Ecast, which provides electronic music, games and entertainment to bars and nightclubs. He is no longer part of the company's management.
The indictment alleges that Cohen falsely told the former president of a San Francisco foundation and other investors associated with the foundation that Microsoft Corp. was going to acquire Ecast and that Ecast shares would be exchanged one-for-one for Microsoft shares, which were worth several times more.
Cohen allegedly told former Vanguard Public Foundation Hari Dillon and other investors that they could make large profits on the exchanged shares and give some of their profits to the foundation. He told them the planned deal was highly confidential and no one should do research on it, the indictment said.
In fact, "There was no such deal between Microsoft and Ecast," according to an affidavit filed in the case in July by U.S. Internal Revenue Service investigator Juan Saavedra.
The indictment alleges that Cohen took in $30 million from 55 investors in the scheme between 2002 and 2008, initially as payment for shares and later for millions of dollars in additional fees Cohen falsely said were needed to pay for obtaining U.S. and European Union approval of the supposed deal.
Saavedra's affidavit said that Cohen met actor Danny Glover, a founder of Vanguard Public Foundation, in August 2002, and said he wanted to help Vanguard in its mission. Glover then arranged for Cohen to meet Dillon, the affidavit said.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco.
If Cohen is convicted, the charges each carry possible maximum sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison, but the actual sentence would be determined after consideration of federal sentencing guidelines.