DIXON (CBS/AP) – Prosecutors say woman who convinced Solano County residents she was going to bring a multi-billion dollar movie studio to the region, was actually defrauding investors.
Carissa Carpenter has pleaded not guilty to charges that she scammed investors out of more than $5 million with claims she had Hollywood backing to build a $2.8 billion dollar movie studio complex in Dixon.
Fifty-year-old Carpenter was arraigned Thursday on 32 felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and making a false statement to a government agent.
Carpenter claimed to have invested hundreds of millions of dollars of her own money in the studio project and have support from well-connected people in the entertainment industry.
Last March, Carpenter made a major announcement at the Dixon City Council meeting that her company, Morning View Studios, had the rights to purchase 333 acres of farmland to build a state-of-the-art facility.
She promised it would create thousands of jobs, and bring $1 billion dollars to the area each year. Dixon’s City Manager, Jim Lindley told CBS “These kind of projects happen every day across the country. It’s hard for people to grasp that it’s going to happen in Dixon.”
The project was slated for completion by January 15, 2015.
Prosecutors now believe movie studio was never really going to ever happen. They say, in fact, the Hollywood figures Carpenter claimed were involved had little or no involvement in the project, and Carpenter used investor money to fund an extravagant lifestyle.
In an interview with CBS in Sacramento last year, George Lucas said he was leery of Carpenter’s project.
“How many directors want to live there and make movies there?” Lucas said. “That actually makes it happen. You can’t build a studio and hope they will come. Last thing you want is a studio, because it’s a bad piece of real estate.”
Carpenter was appointed a federal public defender to represent her in the case, and ordered to return for the next hearing on Feb. 12.
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