Helen Williams, Elite
By Malia Zimmerman | Watchdog.org
HONOLULU — Two of Hawaii’s top law officers are headed to Palma Mallorca, Spain, this week for the so-called “Stevie Wonder Blunder” case.
The case involves Marc Hubbard, 44, of Mecklenburg, N.C., and Sean Barriero, 44, of Miami, who were charged with conning the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 after falsely claiming to be Stevie Wonder’s agents.
Honolulu FBI Special Agent Tom Simon and Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne will travel with Hubbard and his lawyers to depose Helen Williams of Elite Entourage Management, who was unable to travel to Hawaii.
Williams was the point of contact for Robert Peyton, the local concert promoter in Hawaii, who was arranging the Aug. 18, 2012, fundraiser to help the University of Hawaii-Manoa athletic department with a $13 million deficit.
Peyton, who died Jan. 13, 2013, said Williams claimed to be Wonder’s international agent. Peyton didn’t want to transfer money to a foreign bank account, so Williams proposed using Sean Barriero of EPIC Talent LLC in Miami.
In May 2012, Peyton’s company, BPE, entered into an agreement with Elite and Epic Talent to bring Stevie Wonder to Hawaii. The agreement included two shows on Oahu and Maui. The total cost for the show was $450,000.
According to federal documents, Williams, listed as just “H.W.”, received two wire transfers from Barriero — $8,750 and $11,250.
Williams hasn’t been charged with a crime.
The scam unraveled when Stevie Wonder’s real agents, CCA of Los Angeles, told University of Hawaii officials on July 9, 2012, they had been negotiating with unauthorized agents and demanded they stop selling tickets to the concert.
While the university lost $200,000, Peyton separately lost $50,000 in the failed concert venture.
The focus of the current deposition by Hawaii’s law enforcement with Williams is on Hubbard.
Hubbard falsely claimed to have connections with Wonder and offered to arrange a fundraising concert by Wonder that would benefit UH intercollegiate athletics programs, according to court records.
A Hawaii grand jury in November 2012 indicted Hubbard with wire fraud. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Hubbard’s co-defendant, Barriero, pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to illegal interstate transportation of money obtained through fraud. He will testify against Hubbard.
Hubbard was already in trouble in South Carolina, where officials in October 2012 charged him with fraudulently obtaining $700,000 based on false promises to promote a 2008 concert by Alicia Keys.
Sean Barriero of Epic Talent LLC, claimed to be the agent for several famous celebrities, including Taylor Swift
In 2009, the South Carolina securities commissioner issued a “cease and desist” order, demanding Hubbard stop taking money for the Alicia Keys concert.
Hubbard operated multiple companies, including Sports Dimensions Inc. — aka Club Deep Oros — in Charlotte, N.C.; and Club Hush — aka Club Vision — that operates in North and South Carolina.
Hubbard declared bankruptcy in 2006. Two federal tax liens — for nearly $750,000 — were filed against him in 2008 and 2009.
On March 5, 2007, the North Carolina Secretary of State’s securities division issued a final order to cease and desist against Sports Dimensions Inc. and Marc Hubbard, according to the secretary of state’s website.
His alleged concert scams have spanned several states, including North and South Carolina, California, Nevada and Hawaii.
In the Hawaii case, Hawaii’s U.S. Attorney Flo Nakakuni said Barriero, acting at Hubbard’s direction, “falsely represented to a UH official” that $200,000 paid by UH as a deposit for the concert had been sent to Stevie Wonder.
Instead, according to federal court records, the money was spent by Hubbard and Barriero on personal and business expenses.
Federal agents seized a 2010 Mercedes Benz purchased by Barriero’s fiancé and business partner, Sannise Crosby, with $25,000 of UH’s money.
Watchdog.org previously disclosed that Barriero, a British citizen, had formed Epic Talent in Miami and falsely claimed being an agent for a number of stars, including Taylor Swift and rapper Kanye West.
A Watchdog.org investigation in Miami showed Barriero was actually operating the business from a postal box and represented no well-known clients.
Reach Malia Zimmerman at Malia@hawaiireporter.com