“Dancing hamster” pleads no contest to insurance fraud

One of the actors who starred as a KIA dancing hamster was sentenced after being found to have filed a false disability claim

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

A young man pleaded no contest to one count each of insurance fraud and false statements regarding aid. Despite his previous claims of being unemployed due to an injury, Leroy Barnes continued his dancing profession and even lent his moves to a Kia commercial starring dancing hamsters, according to a statement by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Barnes, 29, was sentenced to 90 days of electronic monitoring by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro. He was also ordered to render 400 hours of community service and pay over $24,000 in compensation.

According to Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Gallegly, Barnes claimed that he was struck by a falling piece of ceiling while dancing as part of a theatrical production in June 2010. Barnes then began receiving disability benefits from the Employment Development Department after his doctor diagnosed him with a sprain, an irritation of the eye, and strain and joint dysfunction of the thoracic spine.

Barnes’ doctor put him on temporary benefits for 30 to 45 days.

Gallegly detailed that Barnes had the benefits period extended every few months afterward, claiming physical pain to retain the benefits.

Barnes began dancing again in September 2010, and continued to perform until his benefits finally ended a year later.

California Department of Insurance spokeswoman Nancy Kincaid also noted that Barnes had lent his skills as a backup dancer for celebrities such as Chris Brown, Madonna, and Kelly Rowland while collecting benefits.

Barnes failed to report of any income he had made while supposedly claiming unemployment, said Gallegly.

From September 2010 to September 2011, Barnes had collected $51,000 in workers’ compensation benefits, officials said.

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