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4 arrested in concert tour investment scheme touting Bruno Mars, others

Bruno Mars performs at the Bottle Rock Napa

Bruno Mars performs at the Bottle Rock Napa Valley Music Festival at Napa Valley Expo in Napa, Calif. on May 27, 2018. Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Amy Harris

Federal law enforcement authorities arrested and are transferring to Central Islip four men who prosecutors said tried to defraud investors of millions of dollars by falsely claiming they were handling arrangements for concert tours for Grammy Award-winning musicians including Rihanna, Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson.

The four men, who are linked to a Beverly Hills-based media, marketing and entertainment promotions firm, Rio Vista Universal, live out of New York State. But they were arrested Wednesday in California and are due to appear in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on May 15, according to officials in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.

Mark Lamica, 52, and James Ganiere, 47, both of Beverly Hills, California; Kevin Carriker, 49, of Santa Monica, California; and Kwasi Asare, 49, of New Orleans, face charges of conspiring to bilk investors in a scheme that used bogus tours of some of the world’s best-known performers as bait.

A complaint filed by FBI agent Matthew Galioto detailed the alleged scheme. He said the musicians and their representatives, when contacted by federal law enforcement authorities, denied knowing of or working with any of the men or having agreed to do tours on the dates the defendants had said they had booked. Finally, the artists’ representatives denied the defendants were authorized to raise capital for their performances, Galioto said.

Attorneys for two of the men could not be reached for comment, but Pedro Castillo, a Los Angeles-based public defender who is representing Lamica, who in a Central District of California court docket is identified as "Lamicka," declined to comment. And Amy Jacks, who in court papers was listed as representing Ganiere, said she was unaware she had been assigned the case and knew too little about it to comment.

Rio Vista Universal representatives could not be reached for comment. The company’s website describes Ganiere as “President/Executive Producer/Writer,” Lamica as “Managing Partner” and Carriker as “VP Sales and Marketing.”

Authorities said the defendants are being prosecuted on Long Island because federal agents investigating the scheme transferred $25,000 that was solicited by the defendants from a Long Island bank and into a California-based Wells Fargo account held by Untouchable Management Group LLC.

Galioto’s complaint says that Lamica had revealed during a conversation with an undercover agent that he was the owner of Untouchable Management.

Federal authorities launched an investigation shortly after receiving a notice last July from an attorney representing Rihanna claiming that Asare and others “were soliciting investors and potential investors in an attempt to raise $19.5 million with a return of investment of 22 percent by falsely claiming that they were authorized to raise capital for Rihanna's 2018-2019 Tour.”

An undercover agent, posing as an investor, met with Asare, who subsequently sent the agent solicitations for tours and concerts of Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson who Asare allegedly said had committed to perform on 16 dates in 2019 with The Jackson Five.

It was all a hoax, the agent said in his complaint, which also states that the undercover agent met with all four men in person in Las Vegas as recently as last month, and had had telephone and electronic communications with them throughout the months of the investigation.

“On April 17, 2019, FBI agents interviewed Randy Jackson, the brother and manager of Janet Jackson, who advised the agents that he did not know, nor had any business dealings with, Kwasi Asare, Mark Lamica . . . James Ganiere or Kevin Carriker ,” the complaint said. “Moreover, Randy Jackson told FBI agents that Janet Jackson did not commit to the 2019 JJ Concert Tour or any concert tour in 2019.”

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