I was introduced to Mr. Lane when he was cast in a small role in one of my films. From the beginning, Mr. Lane informed me that he wished to "invest" in my movie. Because I had not yet secured the funding necessary to complete post-production on the project, I entertained Mr. Lane's offer. Shortly after finishing principal photography, I made a call to him to set up a meeting. He asked me to meet him at his home (that he claimed he owned.) The home was an upscale mini-mansion in
Scottsdale, Arizona. In the driveway were two luxury cars. Mr. Lane claimed that he had millions of dollars and that not only did he want to provide finishing funds, but he also wanted to fund my next movie entirely. I thought my dream had come true. I have been an independent filmmaker for ten years and I thought that, at long last, I was forging a relationship that was going to make my days of struggling to raise money a thing of the past. [continued below]....
..... How wrong I was!
When I came to Mr. Lane, my offer was simple. I was going to offer him ten points (percent) of the net profits of the film in exchange for $25,000.00 and a rent-free lease on office space for me to edit the film. He claimed to own an office building with several available spaces. Mr. Lane also claimed that I would be able to live in one of his many houses for the duration of the film. I was happy to hear this seeing as how I was between apartments, and working on the film full time made paying rent difficult.
Shortly after Our initial agreement, Mr. Lane starting changing the rules. First, he only provided $10,000.00 and failed to come up with the remaining $15,000. When I would ask him about the money he would promise me that it was "on its' way." This concerned me, but what I found more disturbing was the condition of the home I was supposed to be living in. From the outside it looked very nice but inside, the place was falling apart. The plumbing was the first thing to cause problems,
followed by power fluctuations that put my computers at risk. To top it all off, I discovered I had several sewer-sized rats as room-mates. I informed Mr. Lane "Thanks, but no thanks" about the property and prepared to move out.
At this, Mr. Lane asked if I would stay just until he sold the place. He informed me it was important to have someone in the home so that he could show it to perspective buyers. I did not feel comfortable about this, but I agreed to stay for the short term as long as the rodent problem was addressed. It never was. What did happen was a constant surge of perspective buyers coming and going at all hours to look at the property. I informed Mr. Lane that it was very difficult to focus on
my work with all the foot traffic and the noise it brought with it. I informed Mr. Lane again that I was not happy in the home and that I needed to move. With all of these strangers around, I was concerned about the security of my computers and my film.
Again, Mr. Lane asked me to stay "just a little while longer" as he had a perspective buyer who was interested and that he expected to close on the house soon.
Weeks went by, and I was still asking Mr. Lane about the rest of the money he owed on his contract with me. This time, his response was different. He made it clear that he did not want to be a "passive" investor in a project, but rather, he wanted to be my partner. He took me out to a fancy steak house and laid his pitch on me. He told me that he wanted to make films with me and support my creative ventures long term. He told me that he had years of experience on Wall Street as a
stock broker and had ran several mid-sized to large companies. He claimed to have made over 20 million dollars in his career and that he saw real value in my work. I was flattered that this big-time moneyman saw such value in a young filmmaker like myself, and I agreed that a partnership was a good idea. By this time, all that I could say negative about Mr. Lane was that he was irresponsible on aspects regarding the home I was living in and that he had past his deadline on dispersing the
rest of the $25,000 he owed. But the idea of having a long-term serious financial backer was too much to pass up. We structured the partnership with the understanding that he would handle all of the business and I would cover the creative end.
He told me the first order of business was to "protect" my film and my other investors by creating a new LLC that would shield us from any potential litigation. He told me that based on his experience; it was not wise for an individual to own a movie, but to put the film into an LLC that would "limit personal responsibility." At the time, I thought this made sense. The project had ran into financial trouble and several people had not been paid in full yet as a result. One person was even threatening legal action against me, so I saw the sense in what Mr. Lane was saying. He then proposed that the new legal entity (Sickle LLC)
should formally acquire the film from me.
He offered to pay me $35,000 to legitimize the acquisition and compensate me fairly for taking him on as a partner. He also told me that there was no way of me losing anything because Sickle LLC was to be the property of he and I equally and that the rest of my investors would be listed as "members" of the LLC. All of this sounded great. I would have money in my pocket and I would be able to get the film finished. I signed the document and trusted that my life was about to
get a lot easier...I was wrong. First off, I never got the $35,000. When I signed the document he told me that it would take him no more then 10 days to free up the cash.
It never came. What did come was a lot of work Mr. Lane wanted me to do for him. He wanted several websites designed to advertise our newly formed production company that he planned to take public. I must have done a total of a dozen different websites and promotional videos for Mr. Lane, all of course, for no money. When I would get on his case
about the $15,000 he owed my movie and the $35,000 he owed me personally, he would apologize up and down, then hand me a hundred bucks and offer to take me to dinner or a strip club. He always wanted to party with me any time I started to voice any concern.
This went on for a few months. I began to realize I had made a mistake. But I was sill working on the film full-time and was choosing to believe that Mr. Lane was a good man and that he would come through in the end. What happened next was a bombshell. I was working on the film in the still rat-infested house, when a woman knocked at the door. When I answered, she asked me if my name was William. I said no. She angrily handed me a large stack of documents and said, "Here you go
William." I looked at the cover page and it was clear that the stack of papers was a lawsuit. I immediately called Mr. Lane and told him what had happened.
Mr. Lane told me not to worry about it and that it was "nothing." I decided to believe him and went back to work. In the days that followed, things really got crazy. All of a sudden, Mr. Lane informed me that he was moving out of his Scottsdale home and that I needed to be out of the house I was staying in by the end of the week. I asked him if he had sold the house and I never got a clear answer on that point. He told me that there was a problem with the property, as it was an asset in his
ongoing divorce. I'm no attorney, but this didn't make sense. For all this time, I was of the understanding that Mr. Lane was already divorced.
I told him that giving me less then a week to find a place was crazy. I was happy to be getting out of that house but I had not had any time to apartment shop, not to mention my lack of money, since I still hadn't been paid. After a brief argument, Mr. Lane told me that he had rented an apartment for me in Fountain Hills, Arizona. He said he chose Fountain Hills because he was moving there himself to live in one of his other high-end properties. Sure enough, the next day a moving truck was at the house and a crew of movers informed me they were moving me to Fountain Hills.
Looking back on it, I should have put a stop to everything right there. But sadly, I didn't. I was still hoping that somehow all this would work out.
After the move to Fountain Hills I hardly saw Mr. Lane. I had not received a penny he had promised me. I was almost done editing and would soon need funds to hire a sound designer and a visual effects artist. Again, he told me not to worry and though he had run in to some financial difficulty because of his divorce, he was expecting that the matter would be resolved shortly.
Not long after this, I found out that Mr. Lane had gotten one of my original investors and partners in the film to "invest" $60,000 dollars with him. The investor told me that according to Mr. Lane, I was aware of the fact that Lane was soliciting funds from him. I was not. I only became aware when the gentlemen contacted me because Mr. Lane had not
responded to any of his phone calls or emails.
Now the writing was on the wall. He was a con artist. I couldn't lie to myself anymore. I had made a deal with the devil and things were going to get ugly.
I confronted Mr. Lane about taking this money from my investor. At first he denied it. When I told him I saw copies of the checks, he changed his story to "I don't bother you with the creative decisions. Don't bother me with the business decisions." He accused me of being way out of line and disrespectful to him by not trusting his judgment. When I reminded him that I was still awaiting payment and that he had failed to honor ether contact he had signed with me, he hung up
the phone. Now I started to do some digging. According to his former personal assistant/girlfriend, Mr. Lane never was the big business man he claimed to be.
He never had millions of dollars, the house I was living in was not sold (it went into foreclosure), and the Scottsdale house he was living in was a rental. The luxury cars where both leased, not owned, as he had claimed. Furthermore, they weren't even leased to him. Both cars were in his wife's name as he had such horrible credit; he could not even sign a lease. After digging around online and following up leads, I discovered that the only "Investment Banking" he did was running pump and dump stock scams. Several people who have done "business" with Mr. Lane, have Rip-off Report entries of their own. (See Mario Pino and Steve Thompson.)
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. I looked up the State filings for Sickle LLC, and found that neither my name nor the names of my investors were anywhere on the documentation. The only name on the LLC that had the rights to my film, was something called "Advocacy Services." After a Google search, I found that this "company" was a Texas LLC owned exclusively by William Lane. I called Mr. Lane and confronted him. I left him a series of voice-mail messages letting
him know that I had uncovered the truth about him and, most importantly, about Sickle LLC.
After everything that had just happened I could not believe that things could get any worse... I've learned never to think that because somehow they always do. I went to see my parents, who live in Tempe, Arizona to let them know all that had happened and to get some advice on what to do next. When I came home that night, I found that my computers, hard
drives, monitors and files were gone. He had taken everything. Everything I had worked so hard for and all that my investors put their money in, was now in the hands of a con man.
I called the police. They took a report, but told me that they would not get further involved, as this was a "civil" matter. My computers and everything on them was gone, this man lied about everything and stole my property, and now the police are telling me it's a civil matter?
The only hope here is (as my attorneys have assured me), that since he never paid me the $35,000 to acquire the film and move it to the LLC, he has no case. I was also able to re-assemble the film. Luckily, I had kept backup hard drives with all the raw footage at my parents house. The problem that I am still dealing with over a year and a half later is that he filed a copyright on the film, based on a contract he never honored. This means we need to take him to Federal court and get a
Federal Judge to re-assign the copyright. If anyone reading this doubts what I am saying, please look this up man under the Arizona Superior Court website. There, you will find a long list of all the other people who have filed lawsuits against William Lane. One is my investor friend, who (believe it or not), never saw a penny of the $60,000 he invested with Mr. Lane.
In closing, Mr. Lane is good at what he does. He's a great con man. His uncanny ability to transform himself into whatever you need him to be is almost as unbelievable as his outlandish lies of being a "former Pro Baseball player" and "Wall Street tycoon." He is charming and funny. He is the big brother you never had, or the father you wish you were closer to. He's your best friend in the world and believes in you. For many of the women he has dated (and left bankrupt), he is the caring and
considerate lover, the rich knight in shining armor. He is a true chameleon that changes his past and present to be the perfect answer to all of your problems. Then, once he has your trust, it's over. He takes everything from you and keeps right on moving as if you never existed.
This man is by far the worst human being I have ever met. Stay as far away from him as you can. Never give him a dime. Don't believe anything he tells you and NEVER trust him. A warning to women: Please never date him. Never loan him any money. By going online and looking up people from his past I can only say this: I have yet to meet anyone who has known Mr. Lane and is better for it.
And steer clear of this man.