Former Epix executive pleads guilty to $7 million fraud at network

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chief digital officer of the Epix cable television network pleaded guilty on Tuesday to defrauding his former employer of more than $7 million, U.S. prosecutors said.

Emil Rensing, 43, entered his plea to a single count of wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott in federal court in Manhattan, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced.

“This has been a difficult time for Emil and his family,” said Rensing’s lawyer, Henry Mazurek. “Today, he took a major step forward in getting on with his life and career.”

Mazurek noted that Rensing’s deal with prosecutors did not require him to plead to the most serious charge against him, aggravated identity theft.

Rensing was arrested and charged in April 2016.

Epix, a joint venture between Viacom Inc VIAB.O, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp LGFa.N and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc[MGMYR.UL], was not identified by name in the charging documents, but the company has confirmed that it was the alleged victim.

In a criminal complaint, prosecutors said that while working at Epix from April 2010 to August 2015, Rensing caused the company to contract with vendor companies he owned to perform digital media services.

Those services were largely never performed, and while the contracts listed several of Rensing’s former professional associates as vendor personnel, those associates had never heard of the vendors, the complaint said.

Prosecutors also said Rensing hid the scheme by using false and stolen identities to conceal his involvement.

The wire fraud count to which he pleaded guilty carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

The case is U.S. v. Rensing, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-mj-2650.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman