A Los Angeles man who portrayed one of the dancing hamsters in television commercials for Kia Soul cars — while collecting disability benefits — will be spending the next three months under electronic monitoring following his no-contest plea to insurance fraud, prosecutors said today.
Leroy Barnes pleaded no contest Thursday to one count each of insurance fraud and false statements regarding aid, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to 90 days of electronic monitoring and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.
He also must pay more than $24,000 in restitution, prosecutors said.
Authorities said Barnes received state disability benefits between September 2010 and September 2011 after being struck by material that fell on him from a ceiling in June 2010. He claimed he was unemployed while receiving the benefits, but he was working on the Kia commercials as a hip-hop hamster.
State investigators contended that Barnes also used aliases to perform in a rap group called The Rej3ctz and as a backup dancer for Madonna, Kelly Rowland and Chris Brown.