The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has filed criminal charges against the operators of an unlicensed Beverly Hills talent agency for falsely claiming that it was licensed to represent child actors and for violating the Krekorian Act, which prohibits advance fees for talent services.
Patrick Arnold Simpson and Paul Atteukenian, who run Network International Models & Talent, were charged with seven counts each including representing children without a child performer service permit, falsely representing that the business was a licensed talent agency, petty theft, attempted grand theft and criminal conspiracy. If convicted, they face up to four years in jail and $33,500 in fines. Arraignment is scheduled for January 25.
“The promise of Hollywood has lured thousands of people from around the globe to pursue careers in television and movies,” said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. “Unfortunately, that promise also attracts unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of those hopes and dreams. My office will hold accountable those who prey on aspiring performers to the full extent of the law.”
Contacted by Deadline, Simpson said that this was the first he’d heard of the charges. “I know nothing about this,” he said. “I’ve been in Europe. Let me talk to my attorney, and I’ll get back to you.”
Under the Krekorian Act, any talent agency providing an artist representation is prohibited from charging advance fees or requiring artists to purchase photographs or lessons or attend seminars as a condition of that representation.
But according to the charges, that’s what Network International Models & Talent did in April after it signed a teenage girl from Inglewood to a contract for representation. While the contract stated that NIMT was licensed by the State Labor Commissioner, the business’ agency license had expired in December 2015 and was not renewed until September 2016. NIMT also failed to obtain a “Child Performer Service Permit,” a condition for representing minors without state licensing.
The girl’s mother allegedly was 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 allegedly was informed later that NIMT selected her daughter to attend an International Modeling and Talent Association convention in New York that cost $8,245 and that she would need to pay NIMT. After researching the company, the mother made a complaint to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, which launched an investigation.
“When I wrote this law eight years ago, I wanted to create a tool to protect budding performers from being exploited by seasoned scammers,” said LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian, author of California’s Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. “This prosecution should put all dubious talent businesses on notice that, if they break the law in Los Angeles, they will face the consequences.”