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CA Department of Insurance

Dancing hamster arrested on insurance fraud charges

News: 2014 Press Release

For Release: June 4, 2014
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Dancing hamster arrested on insurance fraud charges

UPDATED INFO UNDER MEDIA NOTES

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Leroy Barnes, 27, of Los Angeles, known as one of the dancing hamsters in Kia commercials, was arrested on insurance fraud charges related to his alleged fraudulent collection of state disability insurance benefits. Barnes is suspected of deceiving his doctors about his employment status while he receiving disability benefits.

"Fraudulently collecting disability benefits is not only illegal, it disrespects legitimately injured Californians who are unable to work," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

In June 2010 while employed as a dancer for John Cossette Productions Barnes was struck by a piece of ceiling that fell on him during a sound check. Barnes received state disability insurance benefits from September 2010 to September 2011, totaling more than $51,000. Barnes stated that he was not employed during the year he received state disability insurance. Detectives discovered evidence that Barnes was actually working while collecting disability benefits.

While receiving disability benefits, Barnes starred in a Kia car commercial playing the role of a dancing hamster. He also performed in a rap group called The Rej3ctz, under the alias MoWii, assisted in recording the song Cat Daddy, and worked as a backup dancer for Madonna, Kelly Rowland, and Chris Brown under the name Hypnosis.

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Media Notes:

  • Booking photo available.
  • Link to Barnes bio, photos and videos.
  • Arrested March 20, 2014 by LAPD on a traffic stop and booked in the LA County Valley Jail.
  • Barnes pleaded not guilty and is represented by Public Defender Mearl Lottman (bar no. 137083).
  • If convicted, Barnes faces *five years, six months in jail and restitution of $74,287.69, which includes medical fees, legal fees and State Disability Insurance benefits.
  • Los Angeles District Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case.

* Information provided to CDI by the Los Angeles County DA's Office.

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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