Guitarist Faces Jail After Convincing Investors to Fund Bogus Charity Album Featuring Jimi Hendrix, Beatles + More
In what feels like it has to be the strangest, saddest story of the year, an L.A.-based recording artist is facing up to eight years in prison after being accused of swindling millions of dollars out of investors who believed they were helping fund the release of new recordings from rock legends for a charity compilation.
As Noisecreep reports, guitarist Marino De Silva approached investors claiming to be a Grammy-winning “famous producer” in possession of previously unheard recordings by Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Carlos Santana and the Rolling Stones. De Silva, who reportedly told his marks that he was close personal friends with Stones guitarist Keith Richards, funneled donations to a foundation he operated — named Angels on Earth — with the stated goal of raising money for a variety of causes, including “wounded American troops and kids with autism.”
Sadly, it all appears to have been a Ponzi scheme — at least, that’s the contention of Las Vegas police, who arrested De Silva on 22 counts of fraud and theft. According to one longtime acquaintance who says he was bilked out of nearly $40,000, “It seems he’s been using charitable foundations as fronts and simply living the high life without paying any of his investors back.”
When pressed, De Silva apparently did produce recordings, but they were clearly fakes; Noisecreep’s report describes them as “poor quality covers of already known songs, mostly recorded by De Silva.”
Somewhat bizarrely, De Silva managed to maintain a semblance of a recording career as recently as February of this year, when he released a track called ‘Possessed,’ featuring vocals from ‘Into the Night’ singer Benny Mardones. Watch the clip embedded below, and pray we don’t report on anything stranger than this before January.
Marino De Silva featuring Benny Mardones, ‘Possession’