Three imposters posing as studio teachers on numerous low-budget films are being investigated by California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Two of the con men – Kent Linker and Fred Robbins – were exposed by Deadline in September. A third, Terry Westlund, was exposed by Deadline last month.
“Our criminal investigation unit is investigating these gentlemen,” said Paola Laverde, a public information officer for the state Labor Commissioner’s office, which certifies on-set teachers of child actors. She declined to provide any specifics about the ongoing investigation.
Westlund, who describes himself on his Facebook page as an “educated biker,” has posed as a certified studio teacher on at least seven low-budget films during the past year. A Deadline investigation, however, revealed that he doesn’t have any credentials to teach in the state, has not been certified by the Labor Commissioner’s office and is not legally allowed to teach child actors or to look after their safety and welfare.
Westlund was fired from one job last month after the producers became suspicious about his odd behavior, and he was kicked off the set of another film a few days later when the producers were alerted to Deadline’s story.
Linker had been pulling a similar scam for 20 years, sometimes working under his own name and sometimes under the stolen identity of retired studio teacher Marty Carlin. That Linker had gotten away with it for so long is testament to state’s lax oversight of non-union studio teachers, many of whom are hired on a word-of-mouth basis or by referral agencies that don’t bother to check their credentials. It also points to the necessity of putting photo IDs on state-issued studio teacher certificates – known as Green Cards – and to the need for producers to check the state’s database when hiring studio teachers.
Like Linker, Robbins had worked as a fake studio teacher under his own name on several film productions in recent years, and on several others using Carlin’s stolen identity. Unlike Linker and Westlund, Robbins had once been a licensed teacher, though his teaching license expired in 2008 and he never met the state’s stricter requirements to be a certified studio teacher.