A business manager who stole more than $7 million from Alanis Morissette and others was sentenced Wednesday to six years in federal prison and ordered to pay $8.6 million in restitution.
Jonathan Todd Schwartz, 47, wept and apologized at the hearing, saying he took full responsibility for his behavior and would have a life of shame because of it.
“I alone am responsible for the devastation,” he said, adding: “I will spend the rest of my life asking for forgiveness.”
He could have faced more than 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax crimes but Judge Dolly Gee hewed to sentencing guidelines that suggested around five to six years.
In a victim statement at the hearing, Morissette had urged a stiff sentence, saying Schwartz had stolen her trust and her money for years.
“He did this in a long, systematic, drawn-out and sinister manner” that would have bankrupted the singer within three years had the thefts continued, Morissette said.
Schwartz acknowledged 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.
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.
“It was at this time, I realized he also stole my dreams,” she said.
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 has blamed the crimes on a gambling addiction but prosecutors said he took the money to finance a lavish lifestyle and never showed sincere regret.
“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,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein said in court papers.
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.”