One of the actors who played a dancing hamster in those infectious Kia car commercials has been charged with fraud for allegedly working — including shooting at least one of the ads — while collecting state disability payments.
Leroy Barnes, 27, of Los Angeles also worked as a backup dancer for pop stars Madonna, Kelly Rowland and Chris Brown while collecting state workers' compensation benefits, said Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance.
Barnes claimed he was struck and injured by a falling piece of ceiling in June 2010 while dancing for a theatrical production company, Kincaid said. He collected $51,000 in workers' compensation benefits from September 2010 to September 2011, according to investigators for the department of insurance.
He is accused of continuing to work while claiming to be disabled.
“Fraudulently collecting disability benefits is not only illegal, it disrespects legitimately injured Californians who are unable to work,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Barnes told his doctors he was not working during the year he collected the benefits, Kincaid said. In addition to the car commercial and the backup dancing, Barnes also performed in a rap group called the Rej3ctz while on disability, Kincaid said.
Barnes could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.