Written by Adina Genn
Smithtown resident James Muniz, the head of a Hicksville-based child modeling agency, has been making the rounds in court in the last week.
The 44-year-old was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree criminal contempt for violating an order of protection for his then-wife in 2011, the Nassau County District Attorney’s office said.
The sentencing comes less than a week after Muniz pleaded guilty to an unrelated case, where he was charged with “scamming clients of more than $236,000 by promising their children modeling gigs and acting jobs that did not exist,” according to a news release.
On May 16, Muniz, the owner of New Faces Development Center, also known as Model Talent Development Corp., pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree grand larceny, and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, one count of fifth-degree conspiracy. Muniz received a sentencing commitment of two-and-a-half to five years in prison, and civil judgments totaling $236,000 will be issued on behalf of the victims.
According to the DA, between Jan. 1, 2011 and Nov. 30, 2012, Muniz, and a team of others approached adults with children and unaccompanied teenagers in Roosevelt Field Mall, Queens Center, Smithtown Mall and other public places, saying that the children or teenagers had modeling or talent potential.
Based on these representations of modeling or talent potential, Muniz and other New Faces employees would persuade clients into purchasing services such as photographs, discs of photographs, and placement of photographs on a website known as Gigacomps, the DA's office said.
Muniz said in court that he committed these crimes with co-defendants Michelle Alperin-Smith, 43, of Nesconset; Jennifer Diaz-Domenech, 31, of Brooklyn; and Jennifer Santiago, 26, of Jamaica, according to the DA's office.
The cases against those defendants are pending.They are due back in court on June 20.