One of the dancing hamsters featured in a Kia Motors television commercials has been arrested and charge with defrauding the government of California.
Technically, it was not the hamster that was arrested, but the man who performs inside one of the costumes, 27-year old Leroy Barnes.
According to a statement from the California Department of Insurance, Barnes claimed that he was injured in June 2010 when a piece of ceiling fell off and hit his head while he was working as a dancer for John Cossette Productions. The state paid out more than $51,000 from September 2010 to September 2011.
However, an investigation discovered that Barnes had worked quite a bit while he was receiving the disability payments. In addition to starring as a dancing hamster in the KIA ad, authorities also claim that Barnes — under the name Hypnosis — worked as a backup dancer for Madonna, Chris Brown and Kelly Rowland. He is also reported to have helped to record the song “Cat Daddy” and performed with the rap group, Rej3ctz.
Barnes was arrested on May 20 following a traffic stop. He posted bail and was released. According to the California Department of Insurance, if he found guilty, Barnes faces 5 1/2 years behind bars and will be forced to pay the state almost $75,000 in restitution.
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