Man accused of using Desilu name in Hollywood fraud case

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have charged a Redondo Beach man with fraud and identity theft, alleging he used the name of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s legendary production company Desilu to defraud investors.

Charles Hensley, 68, has been charged with 11 counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft for his alleged activities involving using the Desilu name to trick investors into giving him money to shell companies. The charges arose out of an investigation into Hensley’s dealings by the FBI and IRS. Prosecutors said Hensley raised $331,000 from multiple investors, money that went towards his personal expenses including trips to Las Vegas.

Hensley could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Hensley founded Desilu Studios Inc. in 2016 and operates from offices in Manhattan Beach and other Southern California locations. The name closely resembled Desilu Productions Inc., the long-defunct television production company owned by the late Arnaz and Ball, responsible for the production of television series such as I Love Lucy, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek. But Hensley had no legitimate ties to the famous couple.

From August 2017 to May 2018, Hensley urged investors to put money into Desilu Studios and his other company, Migranade Inc., according to the indictment. He allegedly lied about his personal financial situation, claimed the companies were backed with his own funds, provided investors with fake review letters showing the companies were valued at billions of dollars, and falsely claimed Desilu was about to go public. In addition, the indictment alleges that he stole someone else’s identity in order to pose as the sham studio’s chief financial officer when offering materials.

Hensley also falsely claimed that his companies had acquired valuable intellectual property and were actively developing new film and television projects in order to get investors to lend him money. Hensley allegedly used the same misrepresentations to target several entertainment companies and convince them to sell their companies in exchange for Desilu Studio shares.

Prior to the investigation, Hensley filed a copyright lawsuit against CBS, which now controls Desilu Productions’ legacy shows and owns trademark rights to the Desilu moniker. Per Reuters, Hensley claimed in a 2018 lawsuit against CBS that he received blessings from Lucie Arnaz, Ball and Arnaz’s daughter, to use the Desilu name. He also stated that CBS did not object when Hensley first applied for the trademark

If convicted, Hensley faces a mandatory two-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft charges and a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each of the 11 counts of wire fraud. Assistant US Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section will lead the prosecution. Hensley will be charged with the charges in the “coming weeks,” prosecutors said. Man accused of using Desilu name in Hollywood fraud case

Charles Jones

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