Man Faces Fraud, Identity Theft Charges for Using Name of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s Desilu Productions

by Joe Rutland

A California man faces charges including fraud and identity theft for using the name of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s Desilu Productions. The man has been indicted by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. It is alleged that the man used the Desilu production company to scam investors for funding.

Variety reports on Wednesday that Charles Hensley, 68, has been charged. Hensley faces 11 counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. They are in connection with his activities that involve using the Desilu name to dupe investors. He would get them to give him money for shell corporations. So, this indictment comes down after an investigation by the FBI and the IRS into his businesses. Prosecutors are saying that he received $331,000 from investors. That money would reportedly go to personal expenses like trips to Las Vegas. The man was not reportedly available for comment on Wednesday.

Late Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Company In Middle Of Probe

This all goes back to 2016 when Hensley founded Desilu Studios Inc. It operated out of Manhattan Beach and other Southern California areas. Now, this name pretty much resembles Desilu Productions Inc. It no longer is around. But the television company back in the day would produce TV series like I Love Lucy, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables, and Star Trek among many others. Hensley has no ties to Ball or Arnaz at all.

But there was a report from Reuters which stated that he had the blessing of Lucie Arnaz around the use of Desilu. Hensley had filed a copyright lawsuit against CBS. The network has legacy control over the Desilu Productions shows and trademark rights to the Desilu name. Hensley also said that CBS didn’t object when he first applied for the trademark.

If you are a fan of classic TV, then many of your favorite shows are a part of Desilu Studios. Ball would become one of the first female studio heads in Hollywood. She did have a guiding hand as part of the studio itself. It is the stuff made of legends. Ball would also produce and film The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy at Desilu. Those were her follow-up sitcoms to I Love Lucy and The Luci-Desi Comedy Hour.

Arnaz himself would become one of the best-known producers in TV history. In the 1960s, he had a hand in producing the Eve Arden-Kaye Ballard sitcom The Mothers-in-Law. After Ball divorced Arnaz, she would marry comedian Gary Morton. They remained a couple until Ball’s death. Her comedy, gift of physical comedy, and ability to bring joy to millions is still beloved. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem played Ball and Arnaz in Being the Ricardos.