Thursday, May 10, 2007

Push…ahhh… SPLASH!

An interesting story in today's L.A. Times.

While this is not directly related to the story I wrote, it certainly is indicative of the foreign levies program run by the guilds. If the scandal grows to the proportions I believe it could, I wonder if others – "bigger" others, will be handed over to the police as readily as this low-level person.

Writers Guild seeks police probe of former employee
By Richard Verrier, Times Staff Writer
May 10, 2007

The union representing Hollywood TV and film writers has formally asked Los Angeles police to investigate a former employee who it alleges embezzled union funds.

A report filed Monday by the Writers Guild of America, West, alleges that Michelle Trinh, a former assistant administrator in its foreign levies department, misappropriated $17,000 in union funds by issuing unauthorized checks to the sister of her boyfriend.

The filing of a police report does not mean Trinh has been charged with a crime. Investigators will look at the allegations and prosecutors will decide whether to file criminal charges.

Trinh, whose responsibilities included disbursing funds and researching names in a member database, could not be reached for comment.

Guild officials have declined to comment on the report or the circumstances of Trinh's recent departure.

Last week, guild officials acknowledged that an internal investigation found evidence of missing funds and that the matter was being turned over to authorities.

Trinh, 28, worked in the department that has come under growing scrutiny over its handling of fees levied by foreign governments to compensate writers for the reuse of their work.

Over the years, the guild has amassed a pool of foreign levy funds totaling $20 million that it has failed to distribute. That has fueled criticism that the guild is improperly holding on to money that belongs to hundreds of writers or their heirs.

Guild officials have dismissed allegations that they are deliberately holding on to the funds, citing such problems as scant information provided by foreign collection societies and the difficulty of tracking down authors who aren't union members.

1 comment:

  1. Stefan,

    I just got a check from the DGA for $2500 for foriegn levies.

    I owe it all to you.

    Your piece scared the hell out of them and sending out even more money to try to cover their tracks.

    I bet a lot of other directors will be getting checks too so the DGA can say they're finally sending out the money.

    If you want to see the check and some discussion about the "math and accounting" behind it, check out my post on:

    Thanks again,