Leroy Barnes, who plays one of the dancing hamsters in the Kia car commercials, has been arrested on insurance fraud charges in which he allegedly collected more than $51,000 in state disability benefits.
According to a news release by the California Department of Insurance (CDI), the 27-year-old Barnes was struck by a piece of ceiling during a 2010 sound check for the dancing company (John Cossette Productions) with which he was employed.
Barnes collected the disability benefits over the course of one year, beginning in September of 2010. But according to the agency, Barnes was working during the time he was receiving money from the state.
“Fraudulently collecting disability benefits is not only illegal, it disrespects legitimately injured Californians who are unable to work,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in the news release.
Between September 2010 and September 2011, Barnes starred in a Kia commercial as a dancing hamster, performed under the alias MoWii in a rap group called the Rej3ctz, assisted in recording the song “Cat Daddy,” and performed under the stage name Hypnosis as a backup dancer for Madonna, Kelly Rowland, and Chris Brown.
He was arrested on March 20, during a traffic stop and booked in LA County Valley Jail, but released on bail. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, according to the agency.
If convicted, Barnes faces five years and six months in jail and restitution in the amount of $74,287.69.