Agent Gets Five Years

A White Plains, N.Y., booking agent for celebrity speakers was sentenced October 27th to five years in federal prison for bilking clients including Magic Johnson, Andy Rooney and James Earl Jones out of a reported $1.4 million in speaking fees.

Alan Walker, 68, was convicted in April on 60 counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy. Judge Colleen McMahon said she took into account that the agent owes “a whole lot of money” and needed to get out of prison in order to earn it.

She also ordered him to pay back $525,800 — the highest amount she could impose but only a third of the losses suffered by 51 victims.

Prior to sentencing, Walker apologized to the court, saying, “As poor as my conduct was, it really is not who I am and how I’ve lived most of my life.”

Prosecutors alleged that from 1999 to 2004, Walker, president of Program Corporation of America, set up speaking engagements at educational venues and then either pocketed the cash without ever booking a speaker or stiffed clients after the event.

Former client Henry Parker, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, told the Jackson Sun both he and his wife, Marilyn Crist — also Walker’s client — were completely fooled.

“He’s a charismatic guy, and I thought very highly of him,” Parker told the paper. “All he had to do was tell me he was out of money and I would have waited indefinitely. But he lied.”

Walker managed to elude his celebrity clients and their legal reps for years before Rooney brought about the PCA chief’s downfall.

The CBS commentator, who had been shorted about $10,000 from a 2003 speaking engagement, brought a “60 Minutes” camera crew with him to Walker’s office to confront the agent. Walker avoided the camera but reportedly sent Rooney a check for the disputed funds shortly after.

A local newspaper picked up the Rooney story, which caught the attention of an attorney representing former astronaut Scott Carpenter, another of Walker’s victims. A federal investigation was launched from there.

Walker has been in custody for violating his bail provisions since March.