Indictment: California man bilked local investors in fake movie scheme

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A 46-year-old California man is facing multiple felony fraud, criminal conspiracy and sale of unregistered securities charges after he was accused of presenting himself as a movie producer and seeking money from local investors for a pair of movies he never made.


David Matthew Ranes, who lists an address on Lauren Canyon Boulevard in Studio City, California, was taken into custody at the Shelby County Jail on May 7 and charged with six counts of misrepresentation while selling securities, two counts of selling unregistered securities, one count of fraud and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Ranes was released from jail on bonds totaling $250,000 the same day he was arrested. Most of his charges are Class B felonies, meaning he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The arrest came more than two years after a Shelby County grand jury returned a 10-count indictment against Ranes during its November 2016 term.

According to the indictments, Ranes allegedly posed as a movie producer between February 2012 and September 2013 and solicited about $1.3 million from seven local investors under the ruse the funds would cover pre-production expenses for the movies “Sheriff Street” and “Playing with the Enemy.”

“But actually, (Ranes) used most of the invested funds for personal expenses, for other investments not related to the movie productions, to pay co-conspirators and/or to repay other investors,” read his indictment, claiming Ranes fraudulently told investors more than $125 million had been committed to his movie productions. “Defendant omitted to inform investors that he had been attempting, unsuccessfully, to fund the same movie production for several years, and owed substantial sums to prior investors. Defendant omitted to inform investors that his prior movie production company was a debtor party to an involuntary bankruptcy petition at the time of investment.”

Ranes is set to appear in Shelby County District Court for a preliminary hearing in front of Judge William Bostick on June 24.