Producer admits bilking investors with fake Broadway play

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NEW YORK (AP) - A Broadway producer admitted on Wednesday that he scammed his friends and others into investing more than $165,000 in a nonexistent play about opera star Kathleen Battle supposedly starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o.

Roland Scahill pleaded guilty in state Supreme Court to grand larceny and fraud charges. As part of the plea deal, the 42-year-old Scahill is to be sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation. He also must repay the investors and receive psychiatric treatment.

Scahill said in court he pretended he had secured the rights to Battle's life story and had signed a contract with Nyong'o to star in the play. He also falsely claimed Netflix had agreed to film a performance.

Scahill owns a production company called RMS2 Productions. Prosecutors said the investors in the phony play included some of his closest friends. The scheme played out between October 2014 and January 2015.

Battle is a celebrated diva who performed with the Metropolitan Opera.

Nyong'o won an Academy Award for her role in the 2013 film "12 Years a Slave." She made her Broadway debut in 2016 in "Eclipsed," a drama about women caught up in the Liberian civil war.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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