Oakdale woman arrested for Hollywood swindle

Oakdale police helped the FBI arrest a 41-year-old Oakdale woman on Feb. 17 for her connection to a $5.5 million scam involving a Los Angeles producer, a nonexistent television series and fraudulent claims about President George W. Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The woman, Alison Ann Heruth, was an actress in L.A. who had been set to star in and help produce a television dramatization about the Department of Homeland Security called “DHS: The Series.”

According to the Associated Press, her producing partner, Joseph Medawar, was charged in October last year with lying to over 70 different investors that the TV show — which did not exist — had the backing of both Bush and Schwarzenegger. On Feb. 17, charges of failing to report or stop a felony and making false statements to the FBI and the IRS were brought against Heruth, who has also used the name Alison Heruth-Waterbury on film.

Calls to special agent Paul McCabe at the Minneapolis FBI branch were not immediately returned, but the AP article reported that Heruth was released on a $100,000 bail after appearing before a federal magistrate in Minneapolis Feb. 17. Her arraignment hearing is scheduled for March 6 in a Los Angeles federal court and she could be facing as many as 11 years in a federal prison if convicted.

Oakdale Police Capt. Bill Hutton said the department was contacted by FBI agents asking for assistance with Heruth’s arrest around 6 a.m. on Feb. 17. But there was very little else he or any other Oakdale officer knew about the case.

“The officer involved didn’t know anything more than that it was a federal case,” Hutton said. “When the US attorney’s (office) is involved, we don’t usually get very much information.”

Heruth was taken into custody from a home on the 7800 block of Ninth Street but it is unclear how long she has been living in Oakdale or whether or not she is originally from the area. However, she was probably in Los Angeles as late as last fall when the Los Angeles Times interviewed her regarding Medawar’s arrest. At the time, Heruth spoke about how “hurt” she was by the fraud and that she had been duped along with everyone else.

Listed as Alison Heruth-Waterbury, the actress’s only screen credit on the Internet Movie Database Web site (www.imdb.com) is in a Croatian-language film called “Posljednja volja” (“The Last Will”) also starring Goran Visnjic from TV’s “E.R.” The film also starred another actor named Kyle Heruth whose profile also lists “The Last Will” as his only credit. It was unclear whether the two performers are related.

Though it has not been released whether Alison Heruth is originally from Minnesota, it does not appear that she graduated from or even attended Oakdale’s Tartan High School, according to Principal John Bezek, whose staff searched yearbooks from the early to mid-1980s.

The case against Medawar, that now includes Heruth, includes allegations that Steeple Entertainment, Medawar’s production company, was falsely valued at over $200 million by the producer when he began selling stock to investors. He also claimed that there were already 26 episodes of “DHS” filmed and in post-production, though there is no evidence of the show ever being shot. Medawar has 34 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering against him though he is free on a $1 million bond.

Some of the more recent charges against the L.A. producer, the AP reports, accuse Medawar of laundering investors’ money by paying Republican California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher $23,000 for a movie script the congressman had written. Rohrabacher has said he will return the money if Medawar is proved guilty of fraud.

Both Heruth and Medawar were present at the 2004 Saturn Awards in Los Angeles, a ceremony for the best of science fiction, fantasy and horror films, where Heruth presented actor Sean Astin with a best supporting actor award for his work in “The Lord of the Rings” films. At the event, the couple was interviewed by Cinescape.com about their “new” two-hour pilot and series (“DHS”) and the benefit of it being lauded by President Bush and Gov. Schwarzenegger’s anti-terrorism office. Neither claim has been verified, though it is rumored that the pair has had a photo-op with Bush.

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