A Hollywood talent manager has pleaded no contest to one count of operating an advance-fee talent representation service and failing to file a $50,000 bond with the State Labor Commission.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office announced Thursday that Patrick W. O’Brien, 51, operator of Pat O’Brien Talent Management and Talent Marketing and Promotions Inc., was ordered to pay restitution for conducting a $3,000 bait-and-switch scam on aspiring actors and their parents. Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert prosecuted the case.
Judge Yolanda Orozco sentenced O’Brien to three years’ probation and 90 days in jail or 45 days of community labor along with paying $6,000 restitution to three victims. He was also ordered to shut down the Talent Marketing and Promotions business, not to advertise any audition or employment opportunity and to have no involvement with any talent training service or talent listing service anywhere inside or outside the state of California, including any seminar, camp or educational facility.
Orozco also ordered O’Brien not to be involved in any business that develops or produces motion pictures, television, the Internet or any other entertainment enterprise.
The case involved an Arizona mother and her 15-year-old son. The mother replied last year to a casting notice for a teen sitcom project, after which the son was invited to audition at the Hollywood Center Studios and subsequently before O’Brien. During a second interview, O’Brien signed the son to a management contract. O’Brien also sold the victim a “photo shoot and acting classes” package for nearly $3,000, which led the family to relocate to California so the son could participate in the classes.
The City Attorney’s office said a full refund was requested but never provided and that after the case was filed, two more parents contacted the City Attorney’s office and filed a complaint against O’Brien and his business.
Another talent manager, Nicholas Roses, 21, pleaded no contest last week to two counts and was sentenced by Orozco to three years’ probation and to pay $10,700 in total restitution to the three complaining witnesses as well as $2,000 in investigative costs.
Moves come a year after the city warned casting workshops and talent services that it would enforce tightened state rules barring “pay to audition” scams, with city attorney Carmen Trutanich sending out about 200 letters to notify the operators that the Krekorian Act had gone into effect (Daily Variety, April 22, 2010).
O’Brien told Variety he had been steered in the wrong direction in launching a talent services company.
“In an effort to avoid a painful costly trial for my family, I decided to plea to two minor business code violations in exchange for all serious allegations being thrown out,” he said. “Based on bad legal advice, I opened a talent services company, which is now being closed as part of the plea. However, the City Attorney, who was very fair with me, and said that he is not asking me to close my management business based my many years of success.”
O’Brien also noted that the City Attorney didn’t ask for his production company to be closed.
“I look forward to many more years of successful management and TV and film production,” he added. “Based on what was being alleged, I view this decision as a victory and to put it behind me.”