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Shakespeare Investor, Louis Burke, Reports $20,000 Investment Fraud

Tells Stratford police he was the victim of an investment fraud that has left him holding the bag for more than $20,000 in funds intended to revive Shakespeare Theatre. Swindle part of $2.5 million investment promise.

Local resident Louis Burke of Elm Street, noted for his attempts to revive the Shakespeare Theatre in town, and recently revealed as one of two bidders for another long vacant property, the Army Plant (formerly Avco) site near the airport, has reported to Stratford police that he was the victim of a major investment fraud.

On April 22, Burke, of Elm St., came to headquarters and told police that he had been fundraising for the Stratford Festival Theatre and had found a party who told him that he had secured $2.5 million in funding from an international financier.

However, as part of the transaction, Burke had to guarantee $300,000 of the fees to the financier.

Burke told police that he agreed to the arrangement and that the transactions began.  He further told police that investors had informed him that several fees needed to be transferred to his account and wired out to the financier. 

He did this, he said, but recently received a letter from his bank indicating that the transactions were fraudulent and that Burke was now responsible for about $20,500 in funds to the bank.

Mr. Burke indicated also told police that he had received several FBI communications related to the scheme and provided copies to local police of them as well. These appeared to be fraudulent, police said in their report and they advised Burke to take his complaint to the FBI as well and to show the document communications to them.

Burke was unavailable for comment at posting, and Stratford Town Attorney Tim Bishop said this morning that “this is the first I heard it.” 

Melissa April 28, 2011 at 01:14 PM
I can't believe he fell for that scam.
bill April 28, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Level the Shakespeare Theatre before anyone else gets hurt.
tom April 29, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Well it's spring,and of course the talk of fixing up that run down,useless,moneypit,that is known as the Shakespeare theater comes up again...knock the thing down and lets get that property back on the grand list..same with the army plant,no one is going to invest in that either...ENOUGH ALREADY!
George E. Mulligan April 29, 2011 at 03:41 AM
A friend worked for Burke's people about a decade ago. She was paid the first week, and stiffed for over 10 weeks. There were tons of UNPAID contractor claims. Shakespeare Theater could have and should have opened two decades ago and been a huge asset, except for the political actors, who I believe have been robbing Stratford blind and look to hoard and steer all assets for themselves. I know how to get Shakespeare open, completely pay for: NEEDED renovations; Pay off all money invested from the Tax Payers General Fund for roof, parking lot, and maintenance; Pay for ongoing operations; contribute annually to the general FUND, slightly reducing Taxes. Unfortunately, there is NO incentive to present SOLUTIONS to people who will ONLY STEAL....
tom April 30, 2011 at 02:49 AM
George,that's all well and good,but my question would be,after it's all fixed up and open..then what?,do you think it can sustain itself with plays or whatever?..not a chance
Tom April 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Never has turned much of a profit when times were good....now...forget about it! Knock it down, build a nice 10k- 20K sq foot , seasonal, rental hall, landscape the property, keep it a park and rental facility for all to enjoy! Rental facility should keep the park self-sustained with income....break even. Have a series Shakespeare plays once a year....done deal. Its a very nice piece of property, be a shame to develop it so only a few condo owners can enjoy it.
Dale April 30, 2011 at 10:47 PM
Its time to let it go...Most people can't afford to pay for there bills and put food on the table. Do you really think that people will patronize live plays and stage productions when they can't even put gas in their cars??. That place has been unsafe for many years and every year that goes by it gets worse. I live near by and have been waiting for something to happen for many years and it hasnt. I think PROGRESS has spoken.....
Tommy MacKay May 03, 2011 at 07:59 PM
The problem with the theater is that Stratford has no vision for the future. This is a valuable property that could be running off Broadway shows and concerts inside of a year. However the political wrangling leaves it vacant. The tax benefits of selling this to a major investor to completely renovate would be a boon to Stratford residents. But it is the NIMBY mentality. Not in my back yard says resident who live adjacent to the property-too much noise, lights and traffic! Not in my back yard says local business owners who may have to compete with the new facility and its extras (possible a restaurant as part of the theater enclave?-God forbid! It might take business away from existing restaurants!! ) What residents and business owners fail to see is that the casino's are flourishing in this "bad economy" , concert halls and theaters are still seeing steady patronage. No, it's easier to site the negative than take a risk on the positives. The increased traffic means " tourists "-and that means increased revenue for local business. The chance to have big name actors working in town is a chance to have wealthy actors networking ans getting involved with the town and new ideas and projects. Mayor Harkins needs to be a leader and an innovator or the town will continue to be stagnant, and a Daffodil Festival and Bird Watching isn't going to cut it!!
Wooster March 05, 2012 at 12:43 PM
An article about a would be investor getting scammed excites comments only about tearing down a building? Gotta love how this crowd these guys twist things around. If they put half their negative energy into something positive for the Shakespeare theater site we'd probably have a thriving arts center or whatever. Instead, it's just, "Tear it down! Tear it down!" Makes you wonder how many contracts they hope to get out of it if they can turn it into condos.
Rob Doe March 29, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I helped Louis Burke gather up supposed funds to help open the Shakespeare Theater. Bottom line is this man borrowed money from all his friends and threw it away on scams to never repay them again. When I was out of money to lend him I tried to help him business wise. Within the first ten minutes of the meeting I proved to him he was being scammed. He refused to believe me and continued his ways. This was years before this article came out. How someone intelligent enough to direct on Broadway could fall for such obvious scams is beyond me. How he could hurt his friends is also beyond me. He will no longer return my calls.

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