LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A South Bay man who allegedly used the Desilu Studios name associated with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's television production company to lure investors whose money he spent on himself pleaded not guilty today to federal charges.
Charles Hensley, 68, of Redondo Beach, faces 11 counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Trial was set for Feb. 21 in Los Angeles federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. According to the indictment, from August 2017 to May 2018, Hensley successfully pitched investments in companies he owned, including Desilu Studios Inc. and Migranade Inc., which he operated out of offices in Manhattan
Beach and other locations in Southern California. Despite Hensley's claims that Desilu Studios was valued at more than $11 billion and Migranade at more than $50 million, the companies were actually shell corporations with few assets or none at all, according to the indictment. Hensley's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Federal prosecutors allege Hensley began using the name Desilu in 2016 and said he was making new content for his company, telling investors he was wealthy and backing his business with his personal funds. In reality, he had few assets and was overdrawn on bank accounts, the indictment alleges. It further alleges that Hensley falsely represented that Desilu Studios was about to go public and that the company's stock was worth more than its face value and more than investors were paying, and would increase in value following its imminent initial public offering.
Prosecutors also say Hensley stole someone's identity to list as Desilu Studio's chief financial officer in offering materials. The alleged scheme impacted many investors, including some who wired the $331,000 identified in the wire fraud counts. Hensley also allegedly targeted multiple companies in the entertainment industry. Hensley could face up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count if convicted, plus a mandatory two-year prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft count, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.