1) In November 1989, Mac met Dr. Lou Soteriou at his office in Middlebury, Connecticut. Mac’s wife was suffering from a long term, debilitating illness, and had been told by a friend that he was a powerful healer.

2) Mac’s wife appreciated the process of working with Soteriou, and her health improved, when treatments and protocols from other doctors and healers had helped only to a limited extent.

3) While Mac had no particular illness, he also chose to be treated by Soteriou, and found the doctor’s guidance and spiritual orientation helpful and inspiring.

4) In every treatment Mac had with him, Soteriou reiterated that his practice was dedicated to God, and to helping patients reconnect with that transformative power and express it in their lives. Soteriou spoke of “universal laws” of truth, love, and integrity, and insisted that everything he did was “consistent” with these laws.

5) Soteriou’s treatments were expensive; he justified this as a hurdle patients must overcome to “earn the right” to do this work. Soteriou framed every challenge as a choice between aligning with God or settling for the deadening reality of our human limitations. Mac repeatedly chose the path of rising to Soteriou’s challenges, and came to greatly appreciate the value of this approach.

6) Mac watched his wife’s health improve dramatically in response to Soteriou’s treatments, until she became one of the most vibrantly healthy people he knew.

7) The benefits for Mac were less tangible physically, but he experienced a profound expansion in both practical and spiritual potentials for his life.

8) The nature of Mac’s relationship with Soteriou became one of a student to a master, similar to the Zen traditions. “Surrender” was a key word in Soteriou’s practice, with the emphasis on surrendering to the power of God. Soteriou identified himself as a voice for that power – a guide on this “narrow path.”

9) Soteriou also had a darker, more threatening side. He championed Mac’s “higher potentials,” but this was accompanied by warnings of dire consequences if Mac did not heed Soteriou’s advice. Mac’s father was a Protestant minister until he died when Mac was nine, so the connection between love of God and fear of God was very real for Mac. Soteriou often quoted the Bible, including the fundamental Christian tenet to “love your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” He stated this as his aim, for himself and for patients. While Mac often found Soteriou’s approach painful and confounding, he was consistently impressed with the results.

10) Because of this, Mac reached the point where he seldom made major decisions without consulting Soteriou. Mac did not see this as abdicating his power or responsibility; he saw himself as fortunate to be able to cross check his own instincts with the counsel of someone he believed was wiser and more advanced in the ways of God.

11) This doctor/patient and master/student relationship went on for ten years before any idea about the BIRTH OF INNOCENCE film was proposed. Mac’s trust in Soteriou was deeply rooted in a decade of positive, transformational experience. In retrospect, Mac can see red flags he should have recognized. When Mac’s wife became pregnant after Soteriou had urged her to wait, Soteriou was very critical of her choice, and this became a growing breach between Soteriou and Mac’s wife. Soteriou was also requesting large sums of money in ways that Mac now sees should have raised concerns for him. But Soteriou framed these issues in ways that made them seem legitimate at the time. Mac did not entertain doubts about Soteriou, but came to see each challenge as an opportunity to overcome limitations or judgements, and break through into new achievements and experiences.

12) In the fall of 1999, when Soteriou first asked Mac to raise money and begin work on BIRTH OF INNOCENCE, Mac fully believed Soteriou’s promises to personally repay everyone, with generous interest; that the film would be a beautiful, powerful, and inspiring reflection of the work they were doing; and that everyone who supported it would be “abundantly supported in return.”

13) As a writer and performer for most of his adult life, Mac saw this as a unique opportunity to create a film of value and meaning for the world. It literally never occurred to him that Soteriou, with his code of living by truth and “the laws of God,” would not keep his word. 

14) Soteriou insisted on having his participation in the project remain confidential, and stated this as a spiritual necessity for him. He had closed his practice, and was withdrawing from public life to pursue spiritual disciplines he said would help him attain levels of consciousness that could be reflected in the film. Soteriou repeatedly promised to take full responsibility for repayment of all loans to the project, and insisted that people didn’t need to know about his involvement, because the film would be Mac’s creation anyway. Mac reluctantly accepted Soteriou’s insistence upon privacy.

15) Mac now sees how wrong this was, and accepts full responsibility for his actions. He recognizes that he had no right to ask people to loan him money without disclosing Soteriou’s involvement in the project, or that Soteriou was withdrawing large sums. Soteriou was always adamant that he would repay it all. And he claimed that while Mac was the filmmaker, Soteriou’s work on the spiritual frontiers was equally important to the film’s content and success, a crucial part of the process, and a valid component of the cost of producing this film. Mac is deeply sorry to the people hurt by his mistakes in going forward with this on Soteriou’s terms, and this is the primary reason he is here today pleading guilty to a crime.

16) Mac was never comfortable withholding from lenders information about Soteriou’s role. Mac raised this issue with Soteriou, who always insisted this was necessary, and best for everyone involved. Nor did Mac like Soteriou’s insistence on excluding Mac’s wife from information about and participation in the film project, including the fundraising. However, Mac was convinced that it was essential for him to trust Soteriou in order for the project to succeed. And Soteriou convinced Mac that these terms were among those necessary for the project’s success. It is painfully obvious to Mac now how deeply misguided and problematic these choices and his belief in Soteriou were.

17) Soteriou promised Mac that every dollar borrowed would be repaid with generous interest. Mac, in turn, promised this to lenders. To Mac, this was a sacred commitment, and remains so. Mac believes this is why he was able to raise so much money: Mac wholeheartedly believed in what he was doing, and in its value to everyone involved.

18) When Mac had written the script and begun the filming process, his belief in what they were doing grew even stronger. There was something very special about the project. The New York lab where the film was developed said the footage was among the most beautiful they had ever seen. Early versions of the film were captivating to many lenders who screened it. Viewers kept saying there was “something about it” that affected them deeply. Mac believed the film was expressing a powerful truth about our essential nature, that it would find a receptive audience, and earn back the money that lenders were putting in, with everyone benefiting from the experience.

19) In 2004, when Mac had completed a “rough cut” of the film, Soteriou asked to read a copy of the script. This was the first time Soteriou had read any of what Mac had written (Soteriou still had seen none of the film, or footage). Soteriou pressured Mac to make major edits, including a new approach to the beginning and end of the film. He presented these as essential upgrades, and as Mac worked to integrate the changes, he agreed that they improved the film significantly. It did not occur to Mac that Soteriou’s intervention could be a delaying tactic to keep Mac raising money.

20) Because it was taking longer to finish the film than Mac had ever imagined – or than Soteriou had led him to believe – Mac began to face the need to repay some lenders. To be consistent with the spirit of trust and abundance that Mac saw as fundamental to the project, he felt responsible for repaying lenders when they needed it. He even set up arrangements where people could be repaid incrementally along the way. When one lender asked him if this was a “Ponzi scheme,” Mac didn’t even know what the term meant. Mac explained to many lenders that he viewed the arrangement as a “relay race,” where different lenders could help with one “leg” of the project. Mac always expected that the “finish line” would be the completion and marketing of the film, generating revenue needed to repay all remaining lenders. Mac did not know that what he was doing was illegal. He now recognizes that this approach was wrong, and that he gravely and unfairly compromised people in the process. Specifically, he regrets that he did not make it clear to all lenders that a large percentage of their loans was being used to repay interest and principle on earlier loans, and that he still was not telling people about Soteriou’s role, or the large sums Soteriou was withdrawing, and promising.

21) In 2006 and 2007, when the “new version” of the film had been largely put together, and the work underway was only minor (sound editing, temporary score, etc.), Mac began to need to devote more and more time to fundraising and repaying existing lenders.

22) During this time, there was one gap in the film that Mac believed required Soteriou’s help to complete. Soteriou reinforced this belief, and insisted he was doing the “work in consciousness” to bring clarity to this sequence before the film was released to the public. Soteriou repeatedly stated that he was fully committed to this project until every last lender had been paid off, but needed just a little more time before coming back east to finish the film. “Don’t even worry about it, Mac,” he assured. “You just keep doing your job, and I’ll do mine.”

23) Since Mac’s entire experience with Soteriou had been about stepping up to greater challenges, and ultimately seeing the benefits of that, Mac saw this situation in those terms. Soteriou often said, “If you step up for God, God steps up for you.” So Mac continued to devote himself to doing exactly that, under increasingly difficult and demanding circumstances.

24) In late 2008, when the economy began to collapse, it became even harder to raise the money needed to keep up with lenders’ needs.

25) In the spring of 2009, Mac began to tell Soteriou that they could not continue to function as they had been. Mac said it was time for Soteriou to start contributing the financial help promised, and to move back east to help complete and market BIRTH OF INNOCENCE. This was a major change in their dynamics. Only when Mac had been working 16-hour days, seven days a week, for years, and was still unable to keep up, and knew that other people’s needs hung in the balance – only then did Mac begin to question their arrangement and challenge Soteriou’s terms.

26) In response, Soteriou insisted that he was “very close,” -- on the verge of the spiritual breakthroughs that he wanted to achieve prior to moving back east, helping to finish and market the film, and repay lenders.

27) Mac naively expected that once Soteriou understood the situation, he would turn his attention and resources toward helping to resolve it, and would be capable of contributing in the ways he had always promised. Mac continued to borrow money through increasingly unworkable arrangements with lenders, believing he was now on the home stretch. Soteriou kept assuring Mac it would be “only a matter of weeks or months” now.

28) During this time, Mac often told lenders that there was a large sum of money coming soon from a person committed to supporting the project, and that’s why he needed short-term loans. This person was Soteriou, and these were the promises Soteriou was making to Mac.

29) In the summer of 2009, Mac began insisting that Soteriou return from the west coast and make this situation right with lenders. He finally agreed to do so. Mac had phone conversations with both Soteriou and Soteriou’s wife, Julie Dvorak Soteriou, who said they were “packing up and coming to Vermont.” They said they had a $100,000 check from an insurance settlement that they would put toward repayment of lenders and completion of the film, and that they would be working to secure other funds, as well. Mac was heartened by this development, believing he would finally begin getting the help he so badly needed.

30) Then, in September 2009, days before they were scheduled to leave Oregon to come back east, Julie Soteriou packed up and left while Soteriou was briefly out of town, returning to her family in Rochester, Minnesota, putting a restraining order on Soteriou, and refusing all explanation or communication. They had promised to call the following day, but Mac heard nothing for more than a week. When Soteriou finally did call, it was clear that his long-awaited – and desperately needed – help would once again be delayed. 

31) Just before Julie Soteriou left, Mac had been contacted by BISHCA, and had told the Soterious of this development. Mac went to meet with BISHCA investigators, twice, without a lawyer, bringing them all his contracts, believing they could resolve any concerns. 

32) Mac told Soteriou that despite Julie Soteriou walking out on her promises, Soteriou was still responsible for his; lenders’ needs were on the line here, and there could be no more delay. Soteriou said he understood this, did send some money, and did come to Vermont, a month later than planned.

33) But this was not the same vibrant, powerful man Mac had known. He was disheveled, weak, and did not appear well. Soteriou talked about a “series of strokes” he’d had some years before, acknowledging that Soteriou and his wife had hidden this from Mac at the time. But Soteriou insisted that his physical symptoms now were effects of his spiritual disciplines, even painting them as a positive sign in his spiritual evolution.

34) Soteriou stated that Julie Soteriou was tying up their money via her lawyer, but that he was working on this, as well as efforts to arrange adequate funding sources. He consulted extensively by phone with a friend, CFO of a company that builds hospitals worldwide. Soteriou claimed they would create a PPM (private placement memorandum), and claimed this man was lining up wealthy people who would invest, making it possible to refinance the film for its next stage, and repay existing lenders straightaway, which was Mac’s priority.

35) Mac had so deeply committed himself for so long to keeping up with lenders’ needs, that when Soteriou’s efforts to come up with funds in time were falling short, Mac felt obliged to raise this money himself, despite knowing this would put him in legal jeopardy. Desperate to make good on his commitments to people, some of whom were counting on payments for property taxes and other vital bills, Mac continued to borrow money, despite being put on notice by BISHCA. Still believing that it was only a matter of time before Soteriou came through with the money promised, Mac made some very poor decisions during this period: not telling lenders about the situation with BISHCA; misleading people to believe that they were loaning money for completion of the film, when in fact the vast majority of funds was going to repay other lenders; and failing to divulge Soteriou’s role. Mac knows this was wrong, and unfair to the people he asked to trust him. He deeply regrets these choices, and their impact on people he cares about. This was all part of a desperate effort to “get to the finish line,” still believing that everyone would be repaid in the end. None of this is to justify his actions, as Mac would be the first to insist; this is simply an attempt to explain them.

36) Mac’s trust in Lou Soteriou was so deep, so absolute, and in hindsight so blind that Mac did not stop believing in him until Soteriou disappeared in January 2010, and stopped returning Mac’s phone calls. Only then did Mac start to realize the depth of his mistakes and delusion. Mac redoubled his efforts to set this situation right in every way he knew how, and continues those efforts. Including this decision to cooperate with the prosecution of Lou Soteriou, which reflects Mac’s understanding that Soteriou brutally defrauded him, as well as influencing him to put so many others at risk.

37) The agreement Mac made with Soteriou not to disclose Soteriou’s critical involvement in the project or the fact that Soteriou took literally millions of dollars that Mac raised for production of the film – Mac is clear that this was wrong. Mac continued to believe in the integrity of what he was doing, long after common sense should have told him otherwise. Mac still believes in the power and beauty of his film, and still cares deeply about the trust that so many people have placed in it, and in him. If possible, and if allowed by the court, Mac hopes to finish BIRTH OF INNOCENCE, so that it can find its rightful audience, and earn money toward repaying the people who trusted in its message.

38) Mac is also working on other creative projects to earn money for repaying lenders, including his novel, RARE EARTH, which is being sold online (, and is Book One in a trilogy about life in a Vermont
community. When the legal case is resolved, Mac also intends to finish writing a book about the story of what has happened here. He considers it a story about extraordinary trust and good will, shocking violations, and, hopefully, the restoration and fulfillment of that trust. Mac is dedicating his life to that goal.

John L. Pacht Hoff Curtis, P.C. 
100 Main Street P.O. Box 1124 
Burlington, VT 05401 Office: 802-864-6400 

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