Promoter Says UH Deposit Was Sent to Wonder

July 14, 2012, 10:19 AM HST · Updated August 27, 10:00 AM
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Stan Sheriff Center at UH. Photo by Gohawaii.com.

By Rodney S. Yap

Promoter Bob Peyton, who booked the now-canceled Stevie Wonder concert, told a Honolulu television station late Friday afternoon that the University of Hawaii’s deposit money has been located, although verification of the transaction remains unofficial.

“I’m confident that the deposit money is in the right place,” Peyton said in an email to Hawaii News Now.

Peyton said the $200,000 UH Athletic Department funds are now in the hands of the singer’s management team.

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On Friday, Peyton told the Star-Advertiser that he spoke to Sean Barriero, listed as the manager of Epic Talent on its website, on Thursday and Barriero told him he sent the concert down payment money to Wonder.

“To my knowledge, he (Sean Barriero) doesn’t have the money. … We sent it to an escrow account in Miami with the stipulation that when it went out I would know about it, and when it went out it would go to Stevie Wonder,” Peyton told the newspaper. “And it went out, and I was told it went to Stevie Wonder. I’ve asked for a receipt. I haven’t gotten it.”

In a Star-Advertiser report today, Epic Talent has a “virtual” office in a Miami high-rise where it gets its mail, but does not have physical space there. Epic Talent LLC says on its website — alongside photos of Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Prince, Taylor Swift and other celebrities — that for the past 15 years and formerly as BAB Productions, the agency has “become a reliable source for accessing big-name entertainment.”

On another website, Epic Talent LLC is listed as business that was created 157 days ago, on Feb. 8.

“I’m confident that the deposit money is in the right place,” Peyton said in his email to Hawaii News Now.

Phone calls to Epic Talent now only offers a busy signal, while the cellphone number provided by the company on bank account information for the transfer of the funds has a full voice mailbox, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Peyton said Epic is getting a lot of questions about what happened and are not answering their phones, he told the newspaper: “they get tired of it.”

Peyton also claimed Wonder’s managers now want the entire cost of the concert money up front.

They are asking for more money than the original amount, which was $730,000 for a fund raising show at UH and a second concert on Maui, plus travel costs, Peyton said.

“I have been told that I must guarantee the full amount within two business days they will play the show,” Peyton said in an email. “Of course, this whole thing must be totally transparent to the state’s satisfaction.”

“The UH will be informed when I get an updated agreement,” Peyton added.

Meanwhile, in a written statement in response to an inquiry from Hawaii News Now, UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple said, “We are unable to comment during the active FBI and third-party investigations.”

Earlier Friday, UH President MRC Greenwood posted a letter on UH’s web site and other social media addressed to UH “ohana, colleagues and friends,” updating them on the failed concert.

“I want to assure you on behalf of your university that we are doing everything we can to understand the facts and circumstances regarding this regrettable situation,” Greenwood wrote. “Unfortunately, the university may have been the victim of a fraud.”

“To discover all the facts will take time.  In the meantime, we urge you not to prejudge the university or any individuals with respect to roles, responsibilities, and actions,” Greenwood said.

The UH placed UH Athletics Director Jim Donovan and Stan Sheriff Center Rich Sheriff on indefinite paid leave Wednesday, while it opened an independent investigation into the botched concert and went to the FBI. Donovan oversaw the deal and had Associate Athletics Director Carl Clapp sign the contract for the concert because Donovan was out of town, sources said.

As Hawaii News Now first reported Wednesday, lawyers in the UH’s general counsel’s office signed off on the contract, a source said.

And the UH’s Chief Financial Officer, Howard Todo, approved wiring the $200,000 to Epic-Talent agents in Miami, the source added.

Greenwood reported 98% of tickets have been refunded after UH said the singer had not agreed to the Aug. 18 concert date, and UH canceled the concert Tuesday.

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