TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan — "The Producers" was all about a fictional pair of theater lowlifes who scammed little old ladies out of their life savings to back a Broadway flop.
"Springtime for Hitler" it was called.
But now a real life producer is accused of something equally sinister.
A producer scammed investors out of $165,000 for a phony Broadway show starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o he claimed was in the works, prosecutors said.
Roland Scahill, 41, has been charged with grand larceny, scheme to defraud and criminal possession of stolen property by the Manhattan DA's office. He pleaded not guilty.
"This indictment closes the curtain on Roland Scahill’s phantom production,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “The defendant is accused of putting on an elaborate performance to steal $165,000 from seven people in less than three months."
It was called the KB Project, based on the life of famed opera singer Kathleen Battle and was supposed to be starring Nyong'o.
Scahill, who owns a production company called RMS2 Productions, allegedly told people he had purchased the rights to the life story of Kathleen Battle, an opera singer, in October 2014, according to court documents. He claimed Nyong'o had agreed to star and that he had already reserved a theatre on Broadway for the production.
The defendant told investors he was raising capital at $15,000 a share, according to court documents. In January 2015 he told them that Netflix had agreed to film the play and make it available to subscribers. The claim spurred two of the seven victims to invest additional money.
Representatives for the theater, Nyong'o and Battle said they were never approached by Scahill, prosecutors said.
When several investors demanded their money back, Scahill sent them checks, prosecutors said. Each of the checks bounced due to insufficient funds.
Theater lovers are horrified.
"It's so hard getting investors for Broadway, this doesn't help," said one.
In court, Scahill, a Laguardia and Cornell grad, pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny and scheming to defraud .
His lawyer told PIX11 he stands on that not guilty plea.
Scahill allegedly spent the stolen funds on personal expenses: $129,000 on stocks, $23,000 on credit card bills, $18,000 to pay his rent and $10,000 on entertainment.
Bail was set at $100,000 bond and Scahill is due back in court on September 20.