Former CEO of Model Talent Development James Muniz sentenced to prison, ordered to repay victims in modeling scam

Prosecutors say what he did was callous and intentional. (7/11/14)

MINEOLA - A former modeling agency executive has been sentenced to prison time for scamming parents and children out of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors say about 300 families were targeted by the now-defunct Model Talent Development, which was based in Hicksville. They say the agency approached young people in stores and malls, telling them they were beautiful and could make a lot of money in the modeling world.

The CEO of the company, 44-year-old James Muniz, had pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, along with four of his employees. He has been sentenced to up to five years in prison, and ordered to repay $236,000.

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Prosecutors say what he did was callous and intentional. Muniz's attorney says his client is sorry.

Delora Castro says she forked over thousands of dollars in exchange for a portfolio for her daughter Elysa, and modeling gigs that never happened. Castro was among several victims to tell a judge Friday how the scam took both a financial and emotional toll on them.

While several victims of the scam do not think they will ever see a dime of that money, they do say they are satisfied with the punishment given to Muniz.

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