On the Trail of the University of Hawaii’s Missing $200,000 … in Florida
BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN AND JIM DOOLEY - MIAMI, FLORIDA – Epic Talent LLC - the company that took a $200,000 deposit on the promise of staging a Stevie Wonder concert at the University of Hawaii in August but had no authority to do so -bills itself as “reliable consulting source for accessing big name entertainment for public concerts, corporate events and fundraisers around the world” and promises to look out for their “clients’ best interests.”
Epic Talent claims to have “elite clients” and displays photos and biographies of some of the world’s top entertainers including Beyonce, Prince, Jay Z and Kanye West, with Epic Talent’s contact information as a link to the bevy of stars.
Because the $200,000 has gone missing, and Stevie Wonder’s true agents have come forward to set the record straight, the FBI opened a criminal investigation. In addition, state senators are conducting a probe of the failed concert and overall management and fiscal practices at the University of Hawaii.
Since Epic Talent's executives are refusing to answer calls and emails from the media, Hawaii Reporter personally visited what was supposed to be the worldwide headquarters for Epic Talent LLC in Miami, Florida, to get answers.
Nearly 5,000 air miles later, Hawaii Reporter discovered there is no headquarters for Epic Talent LLC in Miami and no 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office hours as the business claims – there is just a mailbox.
The company’s principals - director Sean G. Barriero, US Account Executive Sannise S. Crosby and UK Account Executive J. Spencer - are difficult to locate.
Barriero lists his business address at 14359 Miamar Parkway in Miramar, Florida, but a visit to that location revealed it is actually a UPS store with more than 400 mailbox drops in that location, none of them belonging to Barriero, according to the store clerk. The store clerk confirmed he had never heard of Barriero or his company.
Sannise Crosby, who goes by Sunny, lists her address as 18800 NW 29th Street in Miami Gardens, Florida.
That address is a small home in a run-down neighborhood just outside Miami where many of the home owners use bars to protect their windows and doors from thieves.
Hawaii Reporter spoke to Sannise Crosby’s uncle, who answered the door at the home. He said he knows nothing about his niece's job or a promotion business representing international celebrities that she helps run.
He contacted Sannise Crosby by cell phone for Hawaii Reporter. Sannise told Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman she would call in 45 minutes to arrange a meeting for later Wednesday night to discuss Epic Talent LLC’s services, but she never followed through.
During the brief conversation, Sannise Crosby confirmed Epic Talent has no Miami office, operates exclusively from a mailbox drop, and rents a conference room if its executives need to meet with potential clients.
The home on 29th Street, where her uncle said Sannise Crosby sometimes lives, is also the business address for Divine Painting by Gamal, a company owned by a Florida painting contractor named Gamal Crosby.
Gamal is Sannise’s father, according to her uncle, who also works in the painting business.
Florida business records show Sannise Crosby served as an executive of two firms headed by her father including Divine Painting, Inc. and Divine Painting Properties, Inc.
Legal filings in Miami-Dade County, Florida, list pending federal tax liens of $84,867 against Sannise Crosby and $23,565 against Divine Painting. The lien against Sannise Crosby was filed last year and the Divine Painting lien was filed in 2010.
Last year, a Florida used car dealer filed repossession papers for a 2002 Ford Taurus driven by Sannise Crosby and financed by Gamal Crosby, according to Miami-Dade County records.
A special state Senate investigative committee is holding a series of hearings to determine – among other things – why the University of Hawaii sent $200,000 to this Epic Talent’s escrow account without confirming that it is a legitimate business operation and reputable talent agency that actually represents the stars it claims to.
The first hearing was held on September 24, a second is scheduled for October 2 and a third is already being planned.
Senators, who are expanding their investigation into fiscal and management failures at the University of Hawaii - have already called 5 witnesses and plan to interview several more.
The UH Athletics Department retained the services of local promoter Robert Peyton of Bob Peyton Entertainment Corp. and BPE Productions, Inc., to help with the Stevie Wonder concert, and he also reportedly sent $50,000 to Epic Talent LLC, which is missing.
The University could have lost more than the $200,000 if Stevie Wonder's real agents had not spoken up.
Epic Talent was prepared to take another $200,000 just days before the concerts began on August 9, 10 and 11, according to a report prepared for the University of Hawaii by the Cades Schutte Law firm, and additional funds would also be due.
Meanwhile Epic Talent’s web site, which claims to offer “personal service, open communication and integrity,” is still live.
Hawaii Reporter is working to contact other celebrities posted on Epic Talent’s web site to inquire whether the company actually represents them and books venues on their behalf.
They include Onika Tanya Mara, B.o.B., Flo Rida, Mary Jane Blige, Miguel Jontel Pimentel, Bruno Mars, Chris Brown, J. Cole, Jill Scott, Robert Sylvester Kelly, Tyrese Darnell Gibson, Tremaine "Trey" Aldon Neverson, Robin Charles Thicke, Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Beyonce, Prince, Jay Z and Kanye West.
More on the web:
Epic Talent LLC
Fact finders report and other documents related to the investigation
Short URL: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/?p=99027