STUDIO CITY, Calif. - Rumors that the FBI has raided the offices of talent agency LA Direct Models in a prostitution investigation are completely false, owner Derek Hay told AVN.
"There is no truth to it whatsoever," Hay said. "I'm aware that Joel Lawrence at Gold Star Modeling is the source of much of these rumors, and I think it's a shame that a competitor in the industry has to stoop to such a low level to try and gain an edge in the marketplace. No one visited our office."
When informed of Hay's comment, Lawrence countered, "Give me any piece of concrete evidence that in any way supports that. If he has anything other than conjecture, please bring it forward. Find somebody who says I actually told them that, anyone, and if he can't do that, then he needs to really seriously think about what he's accusing people of."
At the heart of the situation lies a statement issued by Michelle Braun of now-defunct escort service Bella Models on TheEroticReview.com after she recently was inspected and arrested (on a possession charge) by the FBI. Braun wrote: "Everyone would be incredibly foolish to assume that I am the only one being targeted. Every escort and adult agency including ... LA Direct Models are very highly likely the subject of an FBI and IRS investigation."
Some sources alleged that Direct Models had a business connection with Bella Models, which Hay adamantly denies.
"Direct Models never worked with or for or had any sort of working relationship with Bella Models," Hay said. "Many of the girls in this industry choose to work with agencies that provide the services that Bella Models did, through Bella Models and many other agencies, and they still do. It's something that's been increasing in popularity among the girls in recent years, and so, because Direct Models is a large and successful agency, of course some of the girls that work at Direct Models chose to work there also. That's all of the connection that there is."
Speculation has also been flying that Hay was considering selling LA Direct Models to Lawrence because of the alleged investigation, but both parties deny this.
"When people have called me up and said, 'Hey, I hear you're buying him out,' I've said, 'No.'" Lawrence stated. "When they called me up and said, 'Hey, did the FBI go into Derek's office the other day?' I was like, 'I doubt it.' Now, I have people that call me that say, 'Yes it did.' I don't have any idea whether the FBI has anything to do with him or not. If he's feeling competition, and the only way he can believe that he could be beat is if I was nefarious, then he is drastically underestimating me. It's just capitalism, baby, and he's just not winning as many rounds as he was in the past.
"I'm not out to get him," Lawrence concluded. "I honestly think it's a very low probability that the FBI is ever going to knock on his door. But it's not my problem."