East Greenwich man found guilty in ‘Tales from the Crypt’ film scam

PROVIDENCE – An East Greenwich man has been convicted for his role in a 2018 scheme to defraud an unnamed British investor out of $100,000 to produce a feature film based on the HBO series “Tales from the Crypt,” R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced Wednesday.

John Santilli Jr., who is now scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9, was found guilty after a two-day trial of one count of obtaining money under false pretenses, over $10,000 before Superior Court Justice Luis M. Matos.

Neronha in a statement said he hoped the case, which was initially investigated by the R.I. State Police,  “serves as a reminder to Rhode Islanders to stay vigilant.”

“This case is a compelling example of something that Rhode Islanders deal with every day,” said Neronha. “Whether it’s swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from an overseas investor, or a simple email solicitation to an unsuspecting victim, scammers are always finding new, increasingly sophisticated ways to steal from hard-working folks.”

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State prosecutors alleged Santilli “spent large sums of the investment money at various regional casinos,” including Twin River Casino, Foxwoods Casino, and Mohegan Sun Casino, according to the announcement. State police initiated the inquiry after receiving a report from the victim’s attorney in Jan. 2020 that his client had been swindled in a “movie production deal gone wrong.”

The victim had entered a contract with Santilli’s production company, Aloris Entertainment LLC, to finance a remake of “Tales from the Crypt” for $350,000. He wired $100,000 in “seed funding” to Santilli to begin the project, which was then transferred to Santilli’s personal bank account.

“After time elapsed with no reported progress on the production of the film, the victim reached out to friends in the film industry and eventually discovered the project was fraudulent,” according to the announcement.

Based on their findings, investigators obtained an arrest warrant and took Santilli into custody on June 17, 2020.

“I commend the investigative efforts of our Troopers and the Attorney General’s Office for holding this defendant accountable,” said RISP Col. Darnell S. Weaver. “The Rhode Island State Police and its Financial Crimes Unit is committed to protecting the people of Rhode Island and elsewhere from this type of criminal behavior.”

In Nov. 2022 Santilli pleaded guilty in a California federal courtroom to  one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud after  admitting he defrauded investors out of more than $4.2 million by telling  them they would receive shares entitling them to a percentage of the profits from the Las Vegas-based “Magic Mike Live” stage show.

Santilli was released on bond in that case and now faces 187 years in federal prison.

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at Allen@PBN.com