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Black Eyed Peas file lawsuit against former business manager

The Black Eyed Peas attend the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in 2010. Three members of the band -- will.i.am, left; Taboo, second from left; and apl.de.ap, right -- have filed a federal lawsuit against their former business manager, Sean M. Larkin. Band member Fergie, second from right, is not involved in the lawsuit.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Members of the Black Eyed Peas have filed a federal lawsuit against their former business manager, accusing him of “fraud and deceit” that cost them more than $3.2 million.

The heart of the suit against Sherman Oaks financial advisor Sean M. Larkin, whose relationship with the Peas dates back to their early days as a Los Angeles club act, concerns his acknowledged failure to file state and federal income tax returns on behalf of group members and their companies between 2002 and 2009.

“Larkin falsely represented … on numerous occasions that he was taking care of everything and that they had nothing to worry about,” wrote lawyers for William Adams, Jaime Gomez and Allan Pineda, better known to Black Eyed Peas fans as will.i.am, Taboo and apl.de.ap.

Fourth member Stacy Ferguson, or Fergie, employs her own business manager, and is not involved in the lawsuit.

According to the July 19 suit, after band members discovered in 2009 that they had massive tax bills and confronted Larkin, he promised to file the delinquent returns and cover all the costs. But, the suit alleges, “Larkin’s representations proved to be false.”

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The musicians eventually fired Larkin and paid off their taxes, but according to the suit, Larkin has yet to provide them with financial records they need to complete returns for their touring company.

The band members filed the complaint as part of Larkin’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles. He owes the government more than $1 million in back taxes, and two other clients are suing him for failing to file their returns for years. Adams, Gomez and Pineda asked a bankruptcy judge to order Larkin to pay them back and to prohibit him from emerging from bankruptcy until he does.

In a February deposition, Larkin acknowledged failing to file taxes for clients and said he “got in over my head with the amount of clients I had.” He did not return a message seeking comment.

harriet.ryan@latimes.com


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