NEW YORK : A technology entrepreneur who invested in the studio behind the "Twilight" films was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday after being convicted of fraud related to the video technology company Kit Digital Inc.
Omar Amanat, a father of six who turned 49 on Aug. 15, had been convicted in December 2017 along with Kit Digital's former chief, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, a one-time Goldman Sachs analyst.
Before sentencing Amanat, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan expressed incredulity that the "highly gifted and intelligent" defendant could display an "extraordinarily high" level of criminal culpability.
"He did not make one bad decision. He made countless bad decisions," Gardephe said. "Why he engaged in criminal conduct is a mystery."
Amanat could go free soon because his 44 months in jail at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center and Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center since his conviction will be credited toward the sentence. He was also fined US$175,000.
Prosecutors said Amanat, Tuzman and a Maiden Capital hedge fund manager conspired from December 2008 to September 2011 to manipulate Kit Digital stock by having Maiden buy and sell shares, creating an illusion of greater trading volume to support a higher stock price.
Kit Digital filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
Amanat also schemed to defraud Maiden investors by having the fund hide losses in Enable, a Dubai-based fund for which he had raised money, prosecutors said.
Jurors convicted Amanat of wire fraud, aiding and abetting investment advisor fraud, and two conspiracy charges.
"There is no fancy way to say this: I was wrong," Amanat said before being sentenced. "My father passed away while I was in solitary. I couldn't say goodbye. He was a good man, and he deserved a better son."
Prosecutors had sought a prison term of up to 14 years.
Amanat was an early backer of Summit Entertainment, the Lions Gate Entertainment Corp studio unit behind the "Twilight" series and whose other releases include the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker."
Tuzman's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.
The case is U.S. v. Amanat, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00536.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)