The Los Angeles city attorney's office has filed a seven-count criminal complaint against two men who operate a Beverly Hills-based talent agency, alleging that they have violated the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act by charging a client up-front fees.
California's Krekorian Act, which went into effect in 2010, prohibits agents, managers and other people who represent performers from charging them any fees other than commissions and reimbursements for some out-of-pocket costs.
The case against Patrick Arnold Simpson, Paul Atteukenian and their agency, Network International Models & Talent, was filed by the city attorney's office in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday.
The complaint alleges that after Network International signed a teenage girl in April 2016 to a one-year contract, her mother was persuaded to pay for photography services.
The mother, Delores White, is alleged to have spent $560 on photos and a portfolio of her daughter, named in the complaint as "Mia B." Later, White was charged an additional $184.80 for other photography services.
A payment of $8,245 also was allegedly solicited from White so that her daughter could participate in the 2016 International Modeling and Talent Association convention in New York.
The complaint says that the defendants falsely represented to White and her daughter that Network International was a licensed talent agency. And it alleges that the defendants did not have Child Performer Service permits, which are issued by the California Labor Commissioner's Office.
White, when faced with the request for the $8,245 payment, made a complaint to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, which launched an investigation, according to City Atty. Mike Feuer's office.
That agency works with the city attorney's office, looking into grievances and passing them onto Feuer if they are deemed to have potential for prosecution.
"The promise of Hollywood has lured thousands of people from around the globe to pursue careers in television and movies," Feuer said in a statement. "Unfortunately, that promise also attracts unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of those hopes and dreams."
Simpson, 48, and Atteukenian, 51, also were charged with petty theft, attempted grand theft and criminal conspiracy. If convicted, each could face up to four years in jail and $33,500 in fines. They are scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 25.
The defendants did not respond to requests for comment. White could not be reached for comment.
According to Network International's website, the agency has been "established for 25 years." Simpson is described on the website as the company's owner and founder. He has made appearances on several reality TV shows, including "Denise Richards: It's Complicated," "Hollywood Hillbillies" and "Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis," according to the entertainment database IMDB Pro.
The case marks the seventh time the city attorney's office has prosecuted what it deems a violation of the Krekorian Act. It last did so in 2015, when it brought charges against talent manager Debra Baum. She entered a plea of no contest to one of the four counts she faced and agreed to make restitution of about $91,000. Baum avoided jail time, instead agreeing to perform community labor.
The law is named for Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who spearheaded the legislation as a state assemblyman.
In a statement, Krekorian praised Feuer for "boldly enforcing the law," adding: "This prosecution should put all dubious talent businesses on notice that, if they break the law in Los Angeles, they will face the consequences."