Operators of a Beverly Hills talent agency were charged with a series of misdemeanors for allegedly running an unlicensed business and illegally charging the parent of a client nearly $9,000 in fees and other up-front costs for photos, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Wednesday.
“The promise of Hollywood has lured thousands of people from around the globe to pursue careers in television and movies. Unfortunately, that promise also attracts unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of those hopes and dreams,” Feuer said. “My office will hold accountable those who prey on aspiring performers to the full extent of the law.”
Patrick Arnold Simpson, 48, and Paul Atteukenian, 51, operate Network International Models & Talent and were charged Tuesday with seven criminal counts, including violating the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009, falsely representing that the business was a licensed talent agency, petty theft, attempted grand theft and criminal conspiracy.
Simpson and Atteukenian did not return a message seeking comment. If convicted, they could face up to four years in jail and $33,500 in fines, according to Feuer’s office.
The Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act was written by City Councilman Paul Krekorian when he served in the Assembly. The law prevents talent agents from charging up-front fees or requiring they pay for lessons and seminars as a condition of representation.
“When I wrote this law eight years ago, I wanted to create a tool to protect budding performers from being exploited by seasoned scammers,” Krekorian said. “I applaud City Attorney Feuer for boldly enforcing the law as I intended. This prosecution should put all dubious talent businesses on notice that, if they break the law in Los Angeles, they will face the consequences.”
According to Feuer’s office, Network International Models & Talent allegedly signed a teenage client in April 2016 to a contract but falsely represented that the company was licensed by the State Labor Commissioner. The firm also failed to obtain a child performer service permit, which is required for representing minors without state licensing, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
The client’s mother is alleged to have spent a total of $720 for photographs and a portfolio for her daughter and was solicited for $8,245 to attend a convention in New York.
Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for Feuer, told City News Service that Feuer views the case as being part of his jurisdiction because some of the photos were allegedly taken in Los Angeles.
–Staff and Wire Reports
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