Black Eyed Peas' suit accuses ex-business manager of fraud, deceit
Members of the Black Eyed Peas have filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles 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 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 a lawyer for William Adams, Jaime Gomez and Allan Pineda, better known to Black Eyed Peas fans as Will.i.am, Taboo and apl.de.ap. Band member Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson employs her own business manager and is not involved in the suit.
The band members claimed in the suit filed July 19 that when they discovered they had massive tax bills in 2009 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."
The musicians eventually fired Larkin and paid off their personal taxes, but according to the suit Larkin has yet to provide them with financial records they need to complete returns for their touring company.
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 repeatedly failing to file their returns. 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
Photo: The Black Eyed Peas, from left, William Adams, Jaime Gomez, Stacy Ferguson and Allan Pineda -- a.k.a. Will.i.am, Taboo, Fergie and apl.de.ap -- at the 2010 Grammy Awards. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times