Tuesday, 26 November 2013

I Was Duped by MODA Entertainment ( Richard Zampella & Shannon Mulholland )! Don't Let It Happen to You.

In 2010, all of my dreams were about to come true.

I was going to have one of my plays presented at the Lincoln Center in New York, I was going to direct my first feature film, there were investors willing to finance several projects over the next five years and we started by optioning the film rights to one of my favorite Broadway musicals. The problem was that none of it was real. Everything was an elaborate scheme by Richard Zampella and Shannon Mulholland, of New York, to con me out of a great deal of money.

Anyone who is familiar with Les Misérables would know the characters of the Thénardiers: The husband and wife con artist team that robs you blind while they seem to offer hospitality. Such was the case with Richard Zampella and Shannon Mulholland, owners of MODA Entertainment.
And they got me good.
Myself & my daughter with Richard Zampella and Shannon Mulholland
It started out very well. I was first introduced to Shannon by my literary manager at the time, in LA. He had used MODA Entertainment for Licencing and Merchandising of other projects and wanted them on board a project I was working on at the time. I had done a quick Google search on MODA, Richard and Shannon and read about all their great accomplishments with Classic Hollywood Icons and such.

Invoice from MODA for Lincoln Center deposit
(Links to documents available upon request)
Around that time I was staging an elaborate one-night Dracula production in my home town of Toronto just before Hallowe'en. Richard and Shannon drove up from their office in Manhattan to assist me. They helped with last minute leg work and publicity.The show was sold out and a tremendous success. The next day we traveled back to New York and Richard told me that they had invited some investors who were impressed with what I had accomplished with limited resources. We began to discuss remounting my production at the Lincoln Centre with Frank Langella (who had played Dracula in 1979 both on stage and screen) as the vampire hunter Van Helsing. I had seen on the MODA website that they had worked with Frank Langella when he narrated a documentary about Gary Cooper for them. We were going to make this a joint production with my company and MODA, and we split the cost of putting a deposit down at the Lincoln Centre. Having done many events at the Lincoln Center, Shannon took care of the paperwork. As an added bonus,one of the co-founders of MODA Entertainment, Donna Lee, was now working as Morgan Freeman's publicist and had secured him to make a cameo appearance. I was over the moon.

Wire Transfer to MODA for Lincoln Center
(Links to documents available upon request)
They further assisted me by introducing me to a terrific literary agent from the well established Writers House in New York and that agent tried to straighten out a mess that I had with a former writing partner and the credit that I did not receive on a published novel. Next, Shannon introduced me to Roger Merr, a lawyer who was going to assist me on an intellectual property issue I was also having with my former writing partner. I was told that Roger Merr had worked for Ted Turner and thus very experienced in Entertainment Law. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet Roger Merr face-to-face during that trip as he got stuck in traffic and I had to fly back to Toronto. We did however, e-mail and Skype-text with other investors after that, who offered to foot the legal bill.

In a short amount of time,with their encouragement, connections and legal expertise, I was soon working on
Shannon's promise of the return of my money.
several other joint ventures with MODA Entertainment, including my first feature film (they already had a good script) and we negotiated the film rights to 'Jekyll & Hyde the Musical' through another entertainment lawyer based out of LA: Miles Feldman of Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP. A quick Google search verified they are one of the largest entertainment law firms in Los Angeles with an impressive list of clientele. MODA and I split the costs of securing the rights.

Confirmation of wire transfer for Lawyer
for the  Jekyll & Hyde film rights
Shannon's investors were also going to back another deal where I was going to option the film rights of a graphic novel by my friend and colleague Tony Lee. Roger Merr advised me on how to set up an LLC in the United States and Shannon set up the bank account in Manhattan for the investors to wire the money to, rather than going across the Canadian border.

Shannon even set up a publishing deal for my wife's picture book with DK Publishing. Shannon had all kinds of paperwork for us to sign the next time we were in New York. Shannon and Donna Lee later e-mailed me to tell me that their good friend Morgan Freeman had lunch with Kristin Chenoweth to arrange a surprise for my five-year-old daughter who idolizes Miss Chenoweth: She was going to be doing an audio recording of the picture book and wanted to meet my daughter. Needless to say that both my wife and little girl were beyond thrilled. Other projects for my wife popped up, and she provided them with much artwork on spec.
Shannon Mulholland with my daughter.

Success at last! This was all fantastic! Everything was coming together exactly the way I had hoped. But doubts would creep in,and the voice in my head said something wasn't right. I reasoned that they had been so helpful. How could I doubt them?

Then, it began to fall apart.

Little things started to emerge, and chip away at the bubble they had created for me. Any time I was going to meet Roger Merr face to face something would come up. The investors were now covering all the costs of the show at the Lincoln Center and I was supposed to get my$10,000 deposit back but it never arrived. Then the performance date got pushed back a year. I went to NYC because I had two short films in a film festival there. While I was there, Shannon gave me a check from her Wachovia account (the same bank for my LLC) but told me not to cash it right away as her Shareholders had frozen her account. That was odd.

After months of only communicating by e-mail or text Skype, we were supposed to have dinner with all the investors at a restaurant in New York but due to some kind of crisis, Roger Merr cancelled the dinner at the last minute. He was going to meet with me at a restaurant near my hotel to explain. He never showed up because another of his clients had suddenly died and he had to take care of the estate. I tried to arrange another time to meet with Roger and even offered him to call me collect as he supposedly didn't want any record of calling me on his lawfirm's phone bill.

Roger Merr's refusal to give me a phone number.
So, what lawfirm was this? I couldn't find any listing for Roger Merr anywhere. And he didn’t call me collect. We never, ever spoke on the phone. I looked at all the investors' gmail addresses and began to wonder why there were so many near-misses in meeting any of them in person as well.

It occurred to me that neither I, nor my wife, had actually seen or signed any of the recent paperwork. It was supposedly sitting in their downtown office which was now difficult for them to get to, since they were starting a side business in Point Lookout. We hadn’t ever been to MODA’s downtown office, as all our meetings were informal, at restaurants and other venues.

We twice tried to send a courier to pick up the documents on our behalf, which failed both times. We had also never been paid for,or paid back for, anything.

Not too long after that, I heard that Miles Feldman had left Liner Grode Stein, et al, to venture out on his own, so I reached out to him to inquire whether the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’paperwork was following him or staying with the old firm. He e-mailed me back saying he knew nothing of the project. When I forwarded him the above e-mail (with his letterhead that MODA had sent to me), he responded that it was 'a forgery.'
* Miles Feldman's response the e-mail from MODA that I forwarded to him.

Lincoln Center confirming MODA never booked.
I immediately contacted the Lincoln Center. They confirmed my worst fears, in writing, there was no booking by MODA Entertainment for our Dracula show. Before cashing the check that Shannon gave me, I contacted the bank and found out that she had *closed the account* a week before she gave me the check.

I then insisted that Richard, Shannon and MODA return all monies from investments, deposits and loans owed to me, which by now had totaled approx $50,000. Shannon was suddenly too ill to return my calls. Donna Lee chastised me for putting a great deal of stress upon her.

Suddenly, I was alerted that one of the investors, George Levy, was rushed to the hospital on Mar 7, 2011. 
 * Note the date George Levy was rushed to the hospital.

Note the Date of Death.
I was later sent George Levy's obituary which listed his death as (March 6) the day *before* he was supposedly rushed to the hospital.

Roger Merr stopped responding to me entirely, which wasn’t a surprise. I now have written confirmation from the American Bar Association that there is *no Roger Merr* licensed to practice law in Georgia (Turner Broadcasting home state) or New York or any other state.

We received confirmation directly from DK Publishing that there was *never a deal* for my wife's book. Furthermore, Donna Lee hadn't actually been working with Morgan Freeman for a while, nor was he in New York at the time he was supposedly having lunch with Kristin Chenoweth. When contacted directly via her other work’s office, Donna Lee didn’t respond to our messages at all.

MODA’s 'downtown Manhattan office'was a rentable conference room address, not an office space at all.

It was all a façade. All of it.

If one was to Google: "lawsuits" along with "Shannon Mulholland, Richard Zampellaand/or MODA Entertainment" you will find more than the happy, successful websites and news releases they generated themselves to make a lovely internet presence for me to find.

The first is a lawsuit filed by the famous actress Celeste Holm who was "duped" by ShannonMulholland and Richard Zampella.http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/03/09/Actress_Accuses_MODA_of_Telling_Whoppers.htm

The second was launched by the widow of Gene Kelly who accuses Shannon Mulholland of 'forging her signature'.   http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/12/26326.htm

Lastly, a lawsuit started by the son of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who had worked for Shannon and Richard. He was planning on exposing their business practices and claimed that "Zampella threatened to assault him" if he did so. http://www.courthousenews.com/2008/11/20/Bogart_&_Bacall_s_Son_Sues_Entertainment_Co.htm

I wish I had found this information before I was involved with them. Richard and Shannon duped me for$51,835 USD; and they knew my wife and I had a second child on the way. 

I believe they used my money to start up an ice cream shop in Point Lookout called Skipperdees. Richard and Shannon have since started other companies including one that does graphics/webdesign and 'branding' called Trans Multimedia. (The contact page states the same phone number as the ice cream shop.) They also have a restaurant design/consulting company. Richard Zampella is the owner & operator of Idylease Inn located in Newfoundland, NJ.  Idylease Inn is connected with Richard's father: Dr. Arthur Zampella. And finally, Richard Zampella and Shannon Mulholland are listed on the board of directors of the Point Lookout Chamber of Commerce.

After laying low for the last couple of years, I can't help but wonder why there is suddenly a new increase in internet presence by Richard Zampella.

So I’m putting this information out there, for any hapless hopeful like me, who might need to know this information before jumping into any expensive adventures with these folks.

If it is you, dear reader,please search the links I've posted. Please heed the facts in this posting.

Do NOT under any circumstances give these people any money. Their word means nothing. Their documents should be examined closely by a real lawyer that you hire yourself.

I've learned a lot from my experience: Don't take them, or anyone else making these kinds of promises to you, at face value.

Do your research. Dig deep.Then dig deeper.

(Any of the above mentioned documents are available upon request and many, many more including the empty promises of return payments, copies of wire transfers, agreements for projects that never existed.)


  1. I'm shocked. How awful. If there is a hell, I'm hopeful there's an especially horrid place for scumbags like them. Thanks for bravely coming forward with this story. I know a few people who will benefit from your experience.

  2. Had heard some of this, but finally read the whole story! I am so sorry for all this! It did all sounds so promising for you guys! Where does it stand now? Are they still out there? Can we set up a sting and get them?

  3. Wow. So very, very sorry that you were subjected to such cruelty and heartbreak. May Karma be fierce.

  4. One word: sociopaths.

  5. I will never forget our first phone conference regarding the graphic novel. The longer we were on the more I fumed about Shannon and Richard. I gather you were already figuring out for yourself that something was wrong, so my spouting was just confirming your fears. I have no doubt that each time she said she had to step away but would be right back, they were still listening in. Please sue them.

  6. This is blogger so you can tag this with all the words you can associate with these scumbags. Also, do exactly what you're doing: report this every now and again. Google doesn't post fresh content but USED content so if people keep coming here they will see the traffic and give it a higher ranking on their searches. Soon it will be on the front page when people search for MODA.
    I'm so sorry this happened to you. But maybe we can all help it to never happen again.

  7. Ever since the article came out, Richard and Shannon have pushed your article to the 30th page of Google search with bogus websites and repetitive articles and photos.

  8. Zampella is an actor first and foremost. He seems to be his biggest fan as he is a self-proclaimed President of several "international" and domestic companies that don't exist.

  9. I have to correct you, Sir, it's found on Google page 13.

    1. Thanks. That's progress. Let's get it back to page 1 so people don't get ripped off

    2. Thanks!
      I appreciate you all bringing it to other people's attention. It's now on page 1 when I Googled their company name.

  10. Once they are married, they do not testify against one another.

  11. The Hammer is Dropping

  12. Just wondering if you were able to sue.

    1. Because I'm Canadian I would have had to have filed in NYC and retained a lawyer from New York... as well as liaison with one here. At the time, I did not know if they had any assets that was worth pursuing a lawsuit. It could have been throwing good money after bad. I used a lawyer to sever all ties with them... so if I do direct a show in the Lincoln Center 10 years from now, they can't claim part of it.

      Now they have asset as Richard has recently purchased an property with an old estate in New Jersey.

  13. they've ripped off a lot of people - Steve Bogart for one. There is a thing called Rip-Off Report where you can post your story so if they try to cheat anyone else it's on there. What I love is that their website is still up.

  14. Looks like their latest scheme is again in Point Lookout. Trying to open some kind of store where a former community market had stood. Just a couple of blocks from their Skipperdees front.
    Word is the local county caught up with them there and shut construction down.

    1. Yes, I was aware that they were doing something with the Market that was supposed to re-Open last Memorial Day Weekend but that never came to fruition . Richard has also acquired Idylease a historic landmark in NJ.

    2. Is there a link to details?

    3. I do have a lot of other details regarding events surrounding my association with Richard Zampella and Shannon Mulholland. Ranging from multiple copies of emails, invoices, text messages and Skype. However, they are not kept on-line. What is it that you would like to know?

    4. Just Market info. Couldn't find any.

    5. My association with Richard and Shannon ended in 2011. In 2013, there was suddenly a new internet presence by them and they were reposted articles that I had read about them back in 2009 as if it were recent... being suspicious that someone else may be a target, I posted this blog and continue to updatet he end listing current business vetures by Richard and Shannon - just in case. According to my sources the market in Point Lookout was something that was supposed to open Memorial Weekend 2016... but that didn't happen.

  15. I just saw the Facebook story on 'I love point lookout' FB page. they are duping the locals into believing they are good honest shop owners. Are there any other articles about these two crooks.

    1. I understand. I was duped into believing they were my friends... they were SO nice. Even when that inner voice started nagging at me and doubts crept in - I would tell myself they're my friends. I spoke with Shannon almost ever day or we'd text every day. In the end, that's what hurt the most - my trust in a friendship that was never real.

    2. I have some links above from their other court cases. But can add them here. Starting with the lawsuit from Celest Holm:

    3. Gene Kelly's widow: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/12/26326.htm

    4. And from Stephen Bogart, who had worked for Richard & Shannon - here mentions the Gene Kelly case as well: http://www.courthousenews.com/2008/11/20/Bogart_&_Bacall_s_Son_Sues_Entertainment_Co.htm

    5. Here's a link where the lawyers representing Richard and Shannon requested to withdraw from representing them in this lawsuit. This was around the time that I started to talk to them about staging a dramatic reading.


    6. Disgusting human beings. Grifters con men

  16. Terrible tale of deception, sue 'em!

  17. Moda Entertainment run by Shannon Mulholland in 2002 shot a studio talk show TV series titled "Parently Hollywood" on spec instead of just a pilot. About 10 or 12 episodes were shot in standard definition 4:3 video. It was never edited and the production company that partnered with them Crews N Production Services Inc. (which went out of business in 2003) took the camera tapes offsite and did not give them to Moda Entertainment since they were not paid. This is why the show never was finished and released. This show was hosted by Maria Cooper Janis & Pia Lindström.
    It looks like in 2005 they tried again with their series "Icons"
    which also had Maria Cooper Janis & Pia Lindström
    and had a DVD-only release. according to imdb.
    Maria Cooper told me in 2016 that Shannon Mulholland owed her a lot of money.

    1. Interesting. I didn't know that one.

    2. Wow, what parasites!!!! They owe Cooper money? Shameless!!!

  18. Their documentary "Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen" which came out in 2013 was shot in 2000-2001. For a commissioned documentary they obviously did not know what they were doing as it took so long to edit and post-production.

  19. This one I was aware of in terms of time. When I met them in 2009, they had this on their website as one of their "accomplishments". It was when it came up in 2013 on their site as a recently completed project, it looked like they were trying to look 'current' and made me wonder if there was someone else they were trying to con. That was the reason I put this blog up... as a warning for anyone who googled their names.

    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Zampella appears to be working hard posting fake and repetitive websites to drive your page out of the first page of Google Search results