James Muniz, accused in modeling agency scam, denied bail
The fugitive head of a Hicksville modeling agency, arrested in Florida last week on charges of conning clients out of more than $250,000, was denied bail Friday, prosecutors said.
James Muniz, 44, of Roslyn, whose agency promised high-end jobs that didn't exist, was brought back to New York Thursday night after waiving extradition, the Nassau County district attorney's office said.
Muniz failed to surrender on Sept. 18 to Nassau authorities and was found staying with relatives in Hialeah, Fla., near Miami, prosecutors said.
Based on that, prosecutors said they requested he be denied bail "because he's a flight risk." Prosecutors also said that Judge Joy Watson rejected a request by Muniz's attorney that Muniz be given an electronic bracelet.
Muniz was charged with five counts of third-degree grand larceny, 15 counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud.
He is due back in court Tuesday. His attorney Joshua Ketover declined to comment after the arraignment at First District Court in Hempstead.
After three of Muniz's employees were arrested last month, prosecutors said they had received about 300 calls from clients complaining about Model Talent Development Corp., also known as New Faces Development Center.
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice has said that investigators had found 50 victims so far, and expected to document scores more.
Between 2010 and last November, when Muniz's business closed, his scouts went to malls and other places to tell teenagers they had "the look" of a professional model, authorities said.
The agency collected as much as $10,000 from clients for photo shoots and promises of jobs, according to a five-month investigation by Rice and state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
With help from Florida law enforcement, Rice's investigators on Oct. 15 arrested Muniz, who was being held in a Miami-Dade County jail until his extradition.
Muniz, the modeling agency's chief executive, was charged last month with cheating clients, misrepresenting terms of contracts, and promising nonexistent lucrative jobs with fashion designers and others. Muniz's marketing and senior development directors and his vice president for operations were arraigned on grand larceny charges and released on their own recognizance.