Literary agent Marcie Wright has pleaded no contest to one of three counts of embezzlement and agreed to pay some $270,000 in restitution and serve 12 months in county jail.
The Los Angeles district attorney’s office filed the criminal case against Wright late last year, alleging she illegally and repeatedly retained payments owed to her clients.
At a hearing held Friday at the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Teri Schwartz told Wright she must repay funds she stole from former screenwriting clients Mark Cherry (“Kiss Me Guido”) and Robert Kuhn (“Mickey Blue Eyes”), in addition to their legal fees, by the end of October. Wright must repay half of the funds by the end of July.
The amount owed to Cherry is still under dispute and will be determined at a hearing June 12, but is expected to be in the neighborhood of $100,000. Kuhn’s is set at $151,000. If Wright fails to make the payments, the judge said, Wright must face the additional embezzlement counts and would serve three years in state prison.
After Wright completes her sentence, she will serve five years’ probation.
Kuhn and Cherry’s civil case against Wright remains outstanding, with a trial date set for Oct. 27.
The owner and principal of boutique literary agency the Wright Concept, Wright was arrested on grand theft and fraud charges Sept. 21 and spent the night in the Burbank jail after she was charged with embezzling more than $160,000 from Kuhn.
Kuhn’s complaint claimed Wright’s business practice was “to wrongfully retain monies on behalf of their clients and to use those monies for their own purposes.”
By the time Wright appeared in Burbank Superior Court on Oct. 22 to schedule a preliminary hearing, Kuhn’s complaint was amended to include Cherry, who made a $100,000 pilot script deal with Paramount Network Television in 2001 that was later tabled.
The complaint alleged that Wright went to Par and said her client wanted to settle out of the deal and walk away rather than pick it up at a later date. The studio agreed and cut a check for $25,000, made out to “Marc Cherry, c/o the Wright Concept,” that never made it to Cherry.
The Wright Concept received its first license to operate as a talent agency in 1985, but failed on three different occasions to renew the license by the deadline.
The commission’s policy provides that any conviction of a license holder for a crime of moral turpitude against a client is grounds for immediate revocation of the license.
Reps for state Labor Commissioner Arthur Lujan were not available for comment Monday.
(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)