Jury in Fort Lauderdale finds indie film producer guilty of $60 million fraud

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – During the height of his career, Jason Van Eman helped to finance “The Tale,” a film starring Laura Dern that was a hit during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Investigators said Van Eman, 44, used this achievement to help promote a scheme to defraud movie and theatre producers out of more than $60 million.

A jury in Fort Lauderdale found Van Eman, of Weathervane Productions, guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The indie film producer from Oklahoma, Benjamin Forrest McConley, and Benjamin Rafael spent millions on cars, a watercraft, real estate, jewelry, trips — and movies in which Van Eman was cast as an actor.

McConley, of Miami, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 13 years in prison in September.

Rafael, a former Wells Fargo Banker, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October 2019. He was sentenced in July to 42 months in prison for participating in the fraud and for concealing his criminal history on applications for COVID-19 relief loans.

Van Eman’s sentencing is at 10 a.m. on July 21st, at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal.

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.