Alanis Morissette’s ex-business manager has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for stealing millions from the singer and other clients.
Jonathan Todd Schwartz also was ordered to pay $8.6 million in restitution.
Schwartz cried and apologized during his sentencing hearing Wednesday in Los Angeles, saying he’ll spend the rest of his life asking for forgiveness.
Schwartz, 47, admitted stealing nearly $5 million from Morissette between May 2010 and January 2014 and more than $2 million from five unnamed clients when he worked at GSO Business Management, a firm that touted relationships with entertainers such as Katy Perry, 50 Cent and Tom Petty.
Morissette appeared at the hearing and urged a stiff sentence, saying Schwartz stole both her trust and her money and would have bankrupted her.
Schwartz has blamed his crimes on a gambling addiction but prosecutors say he took the money to finance a lavish lifestyle.
Schwartz “has never ‘chosen’ to do the right thing in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein said in court papers. “Every expression of remorse he has made and every purported act of self-improvement he has taken occurred only after he realized he had no ‘choice’ to do otherwise because his seven years of criminal behaviour had been exposed, he eventually figured out that his lies were not going to get him out of the trouble he was in, and he knew he was going to face an eventual reckoning for his crimes.”
Schwartz was a high-flying partner making $1.2 million a year, according to court papers. His crimes cost the firm at least $2 million above what insurance covered, led to layoffs of about a dozen employees and is expected to cause some $20 million in financial fallout because of the blow to the firm’s reputation, according to founder Bernard Gudvi.
The embezzlement was discovered by a new money manager Morissette hired.
When the firm was contacted about the apparent theft, Schwartz made “wild accusations” that his former client was in the throes of drug addiction and mentally unstable, Gudvi said. Schwartz also falsely claimed he invested the money in an illegal marijuana growing business.
“As the walls were closing in on the scheme to steal client funds … he was unable to turn away from the lies,” Gudvi wrote in a letter to the court. “The worse things became, the more easily he seemed to dispense with the truth.”
Schwartz, who was fired, had offered financial guidance to some of the biggest stars and was said to represent Beyonce and Mariah Carey, who both appeared at a fundraiser last year in support of a heart disease charity he founded.
Schwartz penned a mea culpa in The Hollywood Reporter last month. He said his father was a gambling addict who abandoned his family and he sought refuge in sports betting and drugs to deal with the stress from his business.
“The spiral I was in was toxic,” Schwartz wrote. “Winning did not make me feel better but losing was intolerable. If I lost, then I had to make it back and when I lost again, the hole I had dug got deeper and deeper. I felt weak and powerless, terrified by my internal demons that I was turning into my father.”
Schwartz might have lost some money gambling, but there was no evidence he was an addict, Katzenstein said. Instead, he used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle.