LOS ANGELES (March 9, 2005) - A Los Angeles man who deceptively offered vouchers from Screen Actors Guild to scam actors was convicted following a two-week jury trial, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo announced.
Thyvronn Verlin Hill, 40, of Los Angeles, was convicted by a jury of two counts of petty theft (of labor), eight counts of false advertising, and one count of doing business in Los Angeles without a business tax registration certificate.
“My office is committed to prosecuting fraud in the entertainment industry and protecting those seeking a career in that field,” Delgadillo said. “This conviction sends a strong signal that the City of Los Angeles will continue to look out for working actors in our city and warn against potential scams.”
“This is a great day for working actors. Screen Actors Guild thanks Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and his Consumer Protection Division for their commitment to protecting aspiring actors against those who would prey upon their hopes and dreams,” said SAG President Melissa Gilbert. “This verdict against Mr. Hill for fraudulently offering SAG vouchers is a warning to all those looking to scam actors. We will find you and you will be prosecuted."
Delgadillo’s Consumer Protection Unit and Screen Actors Guild have coordinated efforts to raise awareness of potential scams and aggressive prosecution of perpetrators.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 1, 2005 in division 46 of Los Angeles Superior Court. Hill faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail for each count. Also, Hill can be fined up to $1,000 for each count of petty theft and business tax violation and up to $2,500 for each false advertising count.
Since early 2004, Hill’s fictitious company, RJ Productions, advertised on craigslist.org seeking non-union actors for work with the production company. In exchange for 10 days of work as an audience member on the company’s productions, actors were promised a SAG voucher, three of which are required to join Screen Actors Guild. However, Hill was not authorized to advertise or distribute SAG vouchers for audience work. Hill was paid $7,500 by audience companies over a four-month span.
After collecting significant evidence, SAG lawyer Sam Khare informed the City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit of the suspected scam. The City Attorney’s Office conducted its own investigation and Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert filed the case on July 14. The jury trial lasted approximately two weeks.
“I am proud of our continued partnership with SAG in pursuing criminal charges in cases of fraud against actors,” Delgadillo said. “SAG protects actors on and off the set, while my office protects actors when they are victims of crimes on and off the set.”
Background actors may earn SAG vouchers as proof of employment for working SAG signatory productions. An individual who obtains three SAG vouchers, and presents this as proof of employment with corresponding pay stubs, may join the union, entitling them to higher pay and better benefits under union contracts.