LOS ANGELES – In a continued effort to protect unsuspecting aspiring actors and models from becoming victims of unscrupulous talent agents, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has successfully secured a conviction against the operators of an unlicensed talent agency for unlawfully charging the parent of a child fees and for photographs. The operators have been ordered to pay full restitution to the victim and to dissolve the agency. The City Attorney’s Office previously prosecuted 25 individuals earlier this year for alleged casting workshop schemes.
Patrick Arnold Simpson, 49, the co-owner and operator of “Network International Models & Talent,” entered a plea of no contest to one criminal count of violating the Krekorian Act (advance fees for talent services) and was sentenced to 36 months of probation and 10 days of community labor or 200 hours of community service. Universal Models and Talent, LLC, Simpson’s current LLC, was ordered dissolved and Simpson is prohibited from being a talent agent or talent manager or otherwise engaging in the business of talent representation, and from being a producer in the entertainment business if that business charges, requests or collects any fee from any artist. Simpson was also ordered to pay $3,804 in restitution to five victims in the case.
Co-defendant Paul Atteukenian, 51, was also placed on informal diversion for one year and, like Simpson, is prohibited from engaging in the business of talent representation as well as being a producer in the entertainment business if that business charges, requests or collects any fee from any artist.
In April 2016, Network International Models & Talent (NIMT), a Beverly Hills talent agency, signed a teenage girl from Inglewood to a contract for representation. While the contract stated that NIMT was licensed by the State Labor Commissioner, its license had expired in December 2015 and was not renewed until September 2016.
The artist’s mother was allegedly charged $560 by NIMT for photographs and a portfolio for her daughter. After the photo shoot at a Los Angeles studio, the mother allegedly paid an additional $184 to NIMT for photo services. The mother was later allegedly informed that NIMT selected her daughter to attend an NIMT Convention in New York costing $8,245, and that she would need to pay NIMT. The mother began researching the company and the law and ultimately made a complaint to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, who launched an investigation. Feuer’s office and the Department have been working together to combat alleged talent scams.
Under California law, any talent agency providing an artist representation is prohibited from charging fees that are not commissions or for requiring artists to purchase photographs, take lessons or attend seminars as a condition of that representation.
Any individuals who believe they may have been victimized or wish to file a complaint should contact the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at 213- 974-2241 or online, Attn: Investigator Karine Israelyan.
Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert successfully prosecuted the case.