• Action 9 investigates celebrity maker


    KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Action 9 investigates a man who claims he is Michael Jackson's nephew and can make dreams come true. But many people claim the man's a phony and used his "celebrity" to con them out of their life savings.

    The man, "Gepetto Jackson," even took a photo next to Jermaine Jackson, whom he claims to be his father, and Michael Jackson's nephew.

    At many Orlando Magic games, Gepetto Jackson had high-profile, pricey court-side seats. His Facebook page is even packed with celebrity connections.

    He also performed in videos with rappers, but Action 9 found he convinced at least 15 people he could make their dreams come true.

    Kristina Kienholz said Jackson promised her a role on a Disney TV series and showed her contracts.

    "It was going to be a Disney show with a high school theme, kind of like 'Saved by the Bell,'" she said.

    But over the next five months, Kristina said Jackson needed money for company expenses. Her payments to Jackson totaled $60,000 before Kienholz discovered his celebrity was a cruel fantasy.

    "We just feel so stupid and just makes me feel just more mad," she said.

    Kienholz and her husband had borrowed the money against their farm in Oklahoma.

    "It's been a living hell. It's pretty much destroyed everything I've been given," said Kristina's husband, Noah.

    Action 9's investigation found Jackson's real name is Andre Vann and in Connecticut, prosecutors charged him with larceny after a victim said Vann conned her out of $20,000.

    After that arrest, more people said they were victims, claiming Vann promised celebrity connections then cheated them out of nearly $400,000.

    Brandy Bernt and her parents paid Vann $140,000. It was supposed to be an investment after Bernt said Vann hired her to run his entertainment company.

    "I just feel hurt because we would not be in this predicament if it wasn't for me," she said.

    Action 9 found Andre Vann remains in central Florida, living at a home in Kissimmee. He declined to meet with us, then by phone Vann refused to discuss his Jackson family claim and denied misleading anyone.

    The alleged victims and others have gone to the police but were told it's a contract dispute.

    "Just make it right and stop scamming people," said Bernt.

    Vann entered a diversion program, so if he pays the Connecticut victim back, the charge is dropped. His attorney said Vann is paying back the restitution owed to complete the program and will clear his name.

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