California talent manager Bernadette Carter, 42, has been charged with 13 criminal counts, including operating an unlawful group home for aspiring child actors and their parents.
According to a release from the office of Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, the charges include 12 violations of the state's Advance-Fee Talent Services Act: nine for charging clients for acting classes, two for illegal contracts, and one for operating a management company without a bond filed with the state labor department. The 13th count is for maintaining an unlicensed community-care facility.
The City Attorney's Office alleges that Carter, who has represented mainly aspiring actors between the ages of 7 and 17 residing outside California through her company Carter Entertainment since 2006, required her clients to relocate to the L.A. area, sign management contracts with her, and pay $250 to $300 per month for acting classes.
Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert, who filed the charges against Carter this morning in Los Angeles Superior Court, said the manager housed some of the out-of-state parents and their children in her San Fernando Valley home for $2,000 per month. "The different aspect with this is the group-home situation," Lambert told Back Stage. "My understanding...is [there] were as many as 15 [people] living there at one time. More often it was five or six or seven children with maybe one or two adults." Lambert said Carter operated the alleged group home first in Reseda, then in Chatsworth. The Chatsworth home had been vacated by the time the City Attorney's Office was notified.
Lambert became aware of Carter's operations when the BizParentz Foundation, an organization for parents of children working in the entertainment industry, forwarded parents' complaints to the City Attorney's Office. He has been investigating Carter since March.
BizParentz co-founder Anne Henry said her organization attempted to educate Carter on the laws before referring parents to the city attorney. "We became aware that she was housing children when some of her clients approached our foundation for advice on a new contract they had been presented with. Over a period of weeks, more and more of Ms. Carter's clients called us, and it became apparent that law enforcement needed to become involved," Henry wrote to Back Stage via email. "We're thrilled with the criminal charges because we want the public to understand what is normal and accepted business practice in our industry. Housing clients is not normal and is dangerous for kids.... We think kids will be safer if everyone realizes what the laws are and that violating them, especially when it comes to kids, will result in criminal prosecution."
Calls and emails to Carter were not returned as of press time. Her arraignment has been set for Oct. 8 in Division 81 of L.A. Superior Court.