Cleveland talent agency leaves clients without thousands in royalty money

Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-21 06:39:50-04

Clients with Cleveland's Taxi Talent Management report they've been left without tens of thousands of dollars in royalty checks.

Ty and Erin Shehadi of Strongsville said they've been left extremely disappointed after Ty starred in a national commercial and then, months later, was given a W-2 form for some $20,000 in royalty checks he never received.

Shehadi told News 5 it was income that he never knew he had coming, and never received from Cleveland's Taxi Talent Management.

Shehadi claims some 40 royalty checks issued under his name were cashed by the company without his knowledge. He says Taxi Talent Management owner Derek Thomas told him several months ago the $20,000 would be coming his way.

But since then, Shehadi reports Thomas will no longer return his calls.

It was the same story for Julie, who didn't want to give her last name for security reasons.

Julie said her 12-year-old daughter also starred in the national commercial but once again $20,000 in royalties were never paid out.

"The biggest part of it was explaining it to her," Julie said.  "She's like 'well I'll still get the money right?'  And I'm like, 'uh probably not.'"

Meanwhile, the phone number and website for Taxi Talent Management have both been disabled. 

Ty Shehadi and Julie are both on the hook for a $6,000 tax bill on income they never received.

Julie wonders how many other victims are out there.

"I just don't want it to happen to anybody else, anyone else's children. Or if there are others out there maybe this will make them come forward," she said. "Because whether it's $10 or a year's worth of college tuition you should be held accountable."

News 5 was able to contact Taxi Talent Management owner Derek Thomas by telephone.

We spoke with Thomas for more than 30 minutes in an effort to get his side of the story.

So far, Thomas has failed to issue an official statement.