Veteran Hollywood talent manager Pat O'Brien has been convicted of violating state law by operating a "bait-and-switch scam" on aspiring actors and their parents, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.
O'Brien, 51, operator of Los Angeles-based companies Pat O'Brien Talent Management and Talent Marketing and Promotions Inc., entered a no-contest plea to one count of operating an advance-fee talent representation service and one count of failing to file a $50,000 bond with the state labor commission, the city attorney's office said in a statement Thursday.
A judge sentenced O'Brien to three years' probation and 90 days in jail, or 45 days of community labor. O'Brien was also ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution to three victims and to shut down Talent Marketing and Promotions Inc., the city attorney's office said.
O'Brien's management firm will continue to operate.
O'Brien was charged in April with violating the state's talent-scam-prevention law. The charges stemmed from a complaint filed by an Arizona mother who moved to California with her 15-year-old son after he was invited by O'Brien's group to audition for a part in a teen sitcom project.
The mother alleged that the audition was a ploy to sign a management contract with O'Brien and that she paid nearly $3,000 for a photo shoot and acting classes. O'Brien later refunded most of her money, the city attorney's office said.
O'Brien, who had previously denied any wrongdoing, said of the convictions: "In an effort to put a lengthy, painful trial with my family behind us, I agreed to plead no-contest to two minor business code violations."
He attributed the violations to bad legal advice he received and noted that more serious charges of theft and fraud were dropped, calling the city attorney's case against him “a witch hunt.”
The case was the second prosecution of a talent manager by the city attorney's office. Last week, Studio City-based talent manager Nicholas Roses, 21, operator of Roses Entertainment Corp., entered a no-contest plea to one count of operating an advance-fee talent representation service and one count of failing to file a $50,000 bond with the state labor commission. Roses was sentenced to 36 months' probation.
In January, three parents lodged complaints with the city attorney's office about a summer "boot camp" operated by Roses in Los Angeles. The parents, who were recruited from Ohio, complained that the weeklong camp was disorganized and that Roses failed to provide adequate seating and food and water breaks for the children, who were as a young as 6.
Roses was ordered to pay $10,700 in restitution to the three families.
"We are extremely pleased with the outcome in both cases and hope that it will deliver the message to others that you will be prosecuted in Los Angeles for talent scams,'' said Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert, who prosecuted the cases.
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-- Richard Verrier