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State Ends Probe Into Pearlman's Former Model-Scouting Company

No Criminal Wrongdoing Found During Investigation

POSTED: 1:10 am EDT July 21, 2004
UPDATED: 7:34 am EDT July 21, 2004

Officials called off a nearly two-year investigation into a model-scouting company formerly controlled by boy band promoter Lou Pearlman after finding no criminal wrongdoing, the state attorney general's office said.

The inquiry was quietly discontinued after the lawyer overseeing the probe said his staff was "unable to find any substantial violation" of law, according to the office.

The company, now in bankruptcy, operated on the Internet under various names, including the Wilhelmina Scouting Network, Options Talent Inc., eModels Inc. and Trans Continental Talent.

About 2,000 young people and their parents had complained to Florida officials about the company, said JoAnn Carrin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Charlie Crist.

Some of the complaints alleged that the company promised modeling work in return for paying for the online listing service.

But John MacGregor, an assistant attorney general, concluded three weeks ago that the majority of complaints alleged poor customer service or a bad product, but not violations of the law. He also found the company had no records of contact with many of the people filing complaints.

The investigation began in September 2002, about a month before Pearlman and an associate took control of the business. Pearlman, best known for launching the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, said he was negotiating a settlement, but cut ties with the company late last year.

The New York State Consumer Protection Board also fielded complaints about the company, leading the board's executive director to call the business a "modeling hoax."

Board spokesman Jon Sorensen said the agency had forwarded its findings to the state attorney general's office.

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