The fugitive CEO of a New York-based modeling agency who is accused of scamming clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars has been arrested in Florida.
One month after an arrest warrant was issued for 44-year-old James Muniz, authorities caught up with the CEO in Hialeah, Fla., on Tuesday.
Muniz and three employees were charged last month with allegedly defrauding clients out of $250,000 by “overcharging for photo shoots, misrepresenting the terms of contracts, and promising clients lucrative roles and modeling jobs for their children that never existed,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Muniz’ Model Talent Development Center and New Faces Development Center hired people to act as talent scouts in shopping malls until the agencies shut down in 2012.
The employees would allegedly approach teenagers and people with small children telling them they had been chosen because they had a “look” that would help them succeed in modeling or acting.
Prosecutors said the victims were led to believe the process was selective; however, any client who was willing to pay was signed with the agencies.
The victims were rarely placed in modeling and acting jobs, according to prosecutors, and were instead saddled with fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars for photographic services.
Parents with small children also told prosecutors they were contacted by the agency with claims that multi-year contracts at a slew of national retailers had been secured for their children. However, they were allegedly required to pay an additional amount to the agency within 24 to 48 hours or risk losing the job.
In 2006, New Faces, then owned by Muniz’ ex-wife, paid more than $250,000 in restitution after the New York Attorney General’s Office initiated civil proceedings.
It was unclear if Muniz has an attorney, and he was not able to immediately be reached for comment.