HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials have filed fraud and theft charges against a man accused of scamming investors into giving him more than $24,000 to produce a cowboy documentary he said would be narrated by Clint Eastwood.
The film is bogus and the actor was never contacted, state prosecutors said. Other promises Matthew McClintock made — that PBS would air the film, royalties would go to breast cancer research and a prominent historian would be involved — were also false, they said in charging papers filed on Wednesday in Missoula.
Deputy Securities Commissioner Lynne Egan discussed the criminal charges during a court hearing Thursday on whether a ban on McClintock's fundraising efforts should be kept in place.
McClintock used nearly all of the $24,232 he raised to pay for living expenses, to dine out in restaurants and to buy personal items, including tires and a cowboy hat, Egan told District Judge Mike Menahan of Helena.
Just over $200 remained when the state froze McClintock's three bank accounts, Egan said.
"So he spent $575 on a hat?" Menahan asked.
"Yes, and he wore it at the last hearing," Egan replied.
McClintock did not show up for Thursday's hearing and does not have an attorney. Officials with the state auditor's office said they do not know where he is.
The judge ordered a preliminary injunction prohibiting McClintock from soliciting any more investments.
At a previous hearing in June, McClintock acknowledged to The Associated Press that he had never spoken with Eastwood. But he insisted the film was real — though he said he may have difficulty completing it because of ongoing health problems.
Seventy individual investors paid McClintock "advertising fees" and nine businesses paid "sponsorship fees" in return for a portion of the royalties and their names in the film's credits. One investor gave McClintock $10,000 and another $4,850.
McClintock told the investors he would give a portion of the film's royalties to the Western Montana Breast Cancer Fund, which does not exist.
Besides theft and fraudulent practices charges, McClintock also faces charges of failure to register as a salesperson and failure to register a security. Each of the six charges carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence if convicted and a combined maximum fine of $75,000.
McClintock is on probation after pleading guilty in 2010 in a money-raising scam in southwestern Montana. He was previously convicted of fraud and obtaining money by false pretenses in Oklahoma.
This version corrects the dollar amount investors gave to McClintock to more than $24,000.