Fraud Trial for Former MSNBC Anchor Carlos Watson and Ozy Media Begins


The trial of former MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson, charged with attempting to defraud investors in his digital start-up, Ozy Media, began Monday.

Watson, who established the company in 2013, was arrested in February 2023 and charged with fraud and aggravated identity theft. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If found guilty, he faces up to 37 years in prison.

On Monday, Magistrate Marcia Henry stated that the trial won’t start until May 28, The Daily Beast reported. She mentioned that the trial is expected to run until the end of July.

The New York Times reports that it remains unclear what Watson’s defense will be when the trial begins or if he will testify. His lawyer has argued in court filings that the trial is unusual, describing the allegations as “puffing and bluffing” similar to practices by other media founders. The lawyer also claimed that prosecutors are targeting Watson for punishment because he is Black.

In 2021, a New York Times column raised concerns about the media organization’s claims of millions of viewers and readers, suggesting a potential case of securities fraud.

The report led to canceled shows, an internal investigation, investor worries, and high-level departures at the company before it eventually shut down.

The New York Times also reported that Ozy’s chief operating officer and co-founder, Samir Rao, impersonated a YouTube executive during a call with Goldman Sachs while trying to secure investment from the bank.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Taylor Delandro
Taylor Delandro
Digital Reporter. Most recently, Delandro worked as a web producer for ABC7 Chicago. Prior to that, she was a morning show producer at WLBT-TV3 in Jackson, Mississippi. Delandro graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Delandro lives in Chicago with her fiancé.

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