Debbie Reynolds’ hotel staff caught ‘robbing her blind’ amid wild Ponzi scheme

Following decades in Hollywood, beloved actress Debbie Reynolds’s star power started to fade from the spotlight, and her money went with it. The Singing’ in the Rain star turned to investing, only to get wrapped up in a horrific Ponzi scheme orchestrated by the Bennett family, who owned assets in almost every state, including hotels, offices, racetracks and floating casinos.

REELZ’s new docuseries, Debbie Reynolds & Carrie Fisher: Cashed Out, gives viewers an inside look into the fraud scandal.

“Debbie Reynolds was the victim of a Ponzi scheme,” says legal news expert Jill Stanley, in the show.

“Ponzi schemes are fraudulent investment situations. It’s as if investments are being made, so someone is engaging in an investment, but rather than paying the person who invests in the scheme with money that the financial institution earned, they’re really just recycling all the money. So there really is no investment going on. That’s really what happened here,” she continues.

Stanley says Reynolds “borrowed millions of dollars from a bank that was involved in this Ponzi scheme.”

38 PHOTOS
Debbie Reynolds' most famous roles
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Debbie Reynolds' most famous roles
Debbie Reynolds and gene Kelly in the 1952 movie âSingin' in the Rain.' (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds holds Gene Kelly in a scene from the film 'Singin' In The Rain', 1952. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds, US actress, singer and dancer, poses with Gene Kelly (1912-1996), US actor, singer and dancer, in a studio portrait, against a red background, issued as publicity for the film, 'Singin' in the Rain', 1952. The musical, directed by Stanley Donen, starred Reynolds as 'Kathy Selden' and Kelly as 'Don Lockwood'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Harve Presnell and Debbie Reynolds get their fingers burned trying desperately save $300,000 that was put in the potbelly stove for safekeeping in a scene from the film 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown', 1964. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES,CA - CIRCA 1962: Actress Debbie Reynolds with Harve Presnell attends the premiere of 'Unsinkable Molly Brown' in Los Angeles,CA. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES,CA - CIRCA 1962: Actress Debbie Reynolds attends the premiere of 'Unsinkable Molly Brown' in Los Angeles,CA. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
American actor and singer Harve Presnell dancing with American actress, singer and dancer Debbie Reynolds in the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown. 1964 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds looking at Harve Presnell in a scene from the film 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown', 1964. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
JUN 11 1964; 'Molly' Returns to Denver; Debbie Reynolds, star of the movie, 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown,' is mobbed by fans as she arrives at Staple-¡ton Field Thursday. She will attend the world premiere of the movie Thursday night at Denham Theater. Most of movie musical production is set in Colorado and Denver.; (Photo By Jack Riddle/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds and Harve Presnell in publicity portrait for the film 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown', 1964. (Photo by Metro Goldwyn Mayer/Getty Images)
An amused Peter Brent (Leslie Nielsen) watches an excited Tambrey Tyree (Debbie Reynolds) as she takes in the sights and sounds of the big city in Tammy and the Bachelor. (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
The American actress, singer and dancer Debbie Reynolds fishing by the sea, during a break in the shooting of 'Three little words'. USA, 1950 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds and Red Skelton in 'Three Little Words'. Image from the American magazine ' Hollywood life stories' n. 5, 1955. USA, 1955. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Fred Astaire and Red Skelton perform musical piece as Debbie Reynolds and group watch in a scene from the film 'Three Little Words', 1950. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Reynolds, Debbie - Actress, Singer, USA - *01.04.1932- Scene from the movie 'The Catered Affair'' with Bette Davis (l) Directed by: Richard Brooks USA 1956 Produced by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds in wedding gown in a scene from the film 'The Catered Affair', 1956. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *05.04.1908-06.10.1989+ Actress, USA Scene from the movie 'The Catered Affair'' mit Ernest Borgnine und Debbie Reynolds (r.) Directed by: Richard Brooks USA 1956 Produced by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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Debbie Reynolds, Ernest Borgnine, and Bette Davis in the kitchen for breakfast in a scene from the film 'The Catered Affair', 1956. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
February 1957: American actress Debbie Reynolds dancing in a scene from the film 'Bundle of Joy'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Bundle of fans...Singer Eddie Fisher and his wife, film star Debbie Reynolds, are surrounded by autograph-seeking fans as they arrive at Idlewild Airport here December 16th from Miami. Representatives of an estimated 414 Eddie Fisher Fan Clubs in the metropolitan area turned out to welcome him as he arrived to attend the December 19th premiere of his movie, Bundle of Joy. Debbie costars with him in the film, completed just in time for the arrival of their own bundle of joy, Carrie Frances. The premiere will serve as a benefit for CARE and aid for Hungary.
(Original Caption) Eddie and Debbie-and a Baby. Baby (A) Prophetic? This is what Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds look like as the proud couple with an infant in the picture they are now making at the RKO studio, called Bundle of Joy. In real life, the romantic pair are expecting an infant of their own in November.
(Original Caption) Debbie Reynolds. Eddie Fisher appearing together in Bundle of Joy , 1951 it was Fisher Film debut. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
The American actors Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds kiss in a scene from the film 'The Rat Race' by Robert Mulligan. United States, 1960. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
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(Original Caption) Debbie Reynolds in Paramount's The Rat Race, 1966. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
The actors Mooredead Agnes, Debbie Reynolds, Kimm Charney, Carroll Baker, Brian Russell and Karl Malden, as a family of pioneers, on a raft in the film How the West Was Won. USA, 1962. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds on the set of 'How the West Was Won'. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Time flies...Hollywood: The sharp contrast between these studies of actress Debbie Reynolds is a tribute to Hollywood makeup artistry. At left, Debbie is shown as a perky, wide-eyed young girl in the MGM film, How the West Was Won. At right, hardly recognizable, Debbie appears later in the movie as a spunky old woman in her late sixties. Time marches on, with the expert help of the makeup department and wardrobe supervisors.
American actor Karl Malden (Mladen George Sekulovich) talking to American actress Carroll Baker (Karolina Piekarski). American actors Bryan Russell, Debbie Reynolds and Agnes Moorehead watching the scene in the film How the West Was Won. USA, 1962 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Actress Debbie Reynolds pouts to director Henry Hathaway on the set of the 1962 film How the West Was Won. Reynolds played the part of pioneer Lily Prescott. (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) The Singing Nun...The three stars of The Singing Nun pose for a portrait in front of a picture of Pope Paul. They are, left to right, Agnes Moorehead, assistant to the Mother Prioress, Debbie Reynolds, Sister Ann (the Singing Nun), and Greer Garson, Mother Prioress of Samaritan House.
(Original Caption) The singing nun...Ed Sullivan, who plays himself in The Singing Nun, was so impressed with Debbie's ability to play the guitar, he asked her if she would give him lessons. Debbie, naturally, complied, but after Ed heard himself play, he said, 'Maybe I'd better stick to television.'
Little Carol Johnson held by Debbie Reynolds in a scene from the film 'The Singing Nun', 1966. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Greer Garson reading note as Debbie Reynolds watches in a scene from the film 'The Singing Nun', 1966. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Any Wedding Announcement will Come from Mom. Hollywood, California: Singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds might be likened to a pair of love birds for sure in this picture but don't draw any hasty conclusions about wedding bells for them. Debbie said that any announcement of their wedding would be made by her parents and would give only a 'maybe' to queries on the wedding prospects.
After 24 years of show business, 49-year-old Debbie Reynolds is about to make her first appearance in Broadway. After a tumutuous tryout tour that began in Canada last November, she opens here on March 13th in a remake of the 1919 musical 'Irene.' Also making her debute will be Debbie's (and Eddie Fisher's) 16-year-old daughter, Carrie Fisher (seated left on floor), who is in the chorus of the show. Debbie says she's not a typical stage mother but 'it's wonderful Carrie wants to be in show business.'
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Patrick Bennett, an executive for the company, was later sentenced to 30 years in prison for defrauding the actress, and thousands of other investors of over $570 million.

“At this point in her career, all Debbie Reynolds was trying to do was stay afloat,” says publicist Michael Pagnotta. “She was trying to run a business, she was trying to run a hotel, she was trying to pay her debts, and really she was doing it out of the public eye.”

After starring in at least 36 films, Reynolds was left with a lot of fame and no money.

She invested in a luxurious Las Vegas hotel, the Clarion, but despite her best efforts to control the staff and operations, the project only caused her money problems to worsen.

“It turned out the staff were also robbing her blind. Security cameras picked up staff just taking away steaks, loading their cars up with food,” says celebrity journalist Annette Witheridge.

“She said the only people who didn’t rip her off were the ex-convicts she’d employed out of the kindness of her heart. They proved to be the honest ones!” adds Witheridge.

Debbie Reynolds & Carrie Fisher: Cashed Out airs Thursday, March 14 at 9 ET / PT on REELZ.

22 PHOTOS
Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher through the years
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Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher through the years

Circa 1956, American actor and singer Debbie Reynolds smiles and holds her infant daughter, Carrie Fisher.

(Photo by Jack Albin/Getty Images)

A newcomer to the ranks of fatherhood, Eddie Fisher was named 'Father of the Year in TV' by the National Father's Day Committee. Mrs. Fisher (Debbie Reynolds) and the children presented Fisher with a handsome photo wallet containing their pictures. Carrie Frances is 19 months and son Todd (L) is 4 months old.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Actress Debbie Reynolds, still deeply upset over separation from singer Eddie Fisher, was hospitalized here suffering exhaust indigestion. Meanwhile MGM Studios plan to shoot 'around' the actress until here where she is working in The Mating Game. Debbie holds her two children, Carrie and Todd, 8-mos, (right) in this photo made during the current shooting at the site.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Debbie Reynolds with her daughter Carrie Fisher, 23 months old, smiles as she leaves the house September 9, 1958 to visit friends in Los Angeles, California. Husband Eddie Fisher and Miss Reynolds later revealed their separation.

(Photo by Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Carrie Fisher, 3, gives her mother Debbie Reynolds a hug after her afternoon nap in their home November 16, 1959 in West Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Ray Graham/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) .

Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher with daughter Carrie Frances born October 21, 1956.

(Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

12th February 1972

American actress Debbie Reynolds with her daughter Carrie Fisher.

(Photo by Dove/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher during 11th Annual American Comedy Awards at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Debbie Reynolds with her children Carrie and Todd Fisher, on the site of the new museum that will house her collection of film costumes.

(Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

Actresses Debbie Reynolds (L) and Carrie Fisher (R) arrive at the premiere of 'Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,' at the Loews Cineplex Uptown Theatre May 12, 2005 in Washington, DC. Star Wars premiers are taking place across the country tonight.

(Photo by Shaun Heasley/Getty Images)

Actress Carrie Fisher (L) and her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, arrive for Dame Elizabeth Taylor's 75th birthday party at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas on February 27, 2007 in Henderson, Nevada.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Actress Debbie Reynolds (R) unveils the site of the new Hollywood Motion Picture Collection which will house her $30 million collection of movie costumes and props in Hollywood, June 19, 2001, with daughter Carrie Fisher at her side. The movie memorabilia museum, set to open February 2002, will be located at the Hollywood & Highland development which is also the site of the Kodak Theatre, permanent home of the Academy Awards ceremony. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

Actresses Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher arrive at the premiere of HBO's documentary 'Wishful Drinking' at Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center for Motion Study on December 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage)

Carrie Fisher (L), Debbie Reynolds, and Billie Lourd attend Paley Center & TCM present Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood memorabilia exhibit reception at The Paley Center for Media on June 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)

Actress Debbie Reynolds (L) and her daughter Carrie Fisher (R) arrive at the 2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 10, 2011.

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Actors Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher arrive at the 2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theater L.A. Live.

(Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

Actresses Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher and Joely Fisher arrive at the premiere of HBO's documentary 'Wishful Drinking' at Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center for Motion Study on December 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage)

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds attend the all-star gala and press preview of Profiles in History's Debbie Reynolds-The Auction Finale at Debbie Reynolds's Dance Studio on May 14, 2014 in North Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)

Actresses Debbie Reynolds (L), recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and Carrie Fisher pose in the press room at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Actress Carrie Fisher (L) and actress Debbie Reynolds attend TNT's 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. 

(Photo by Charley Gallay/WireImage)

Actresses Debbie Reynolds (L), recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and Carrie Fisher pose in the press room at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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