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Hobby shop owner accused of defrauding movie director

Published: February 10, 2011
According to a report in The Oakland Press, Richard Berry, owner of Michigan Toy Soldier Company and Old Northwest Trading Company in Royal Oak, Mich., is accused of defrauding Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson of nearly $200,000.

Court documents state that Jackson made purchases from Michigan Toy Soldier in 2008 and Berry allegedly made fraudulent charges between September 2008 and October 2009.

Berry was arrested on May 4, 2010. His lawyer, David Steingold, said that Berry had started to pay back the illegal purchases in an attempt to avoid legal ramifications.

A plea bargain has been struck and Berry faces up to 15 months in prison and up to a further three months of supervised release. Berry is also required to pay a $100 assessment and restitution to American Express. The remaining $150,238 of fraudulent charges must be paid by June 8. 

In a letter to the court, Berry said he didn't use the money for personal gain, but in an attempt to keep his business afloat.

Originally reported by Dave Phillips and The Oak Press.