He has earned hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars from people who thought they were helping school children take a field trip.
He is selling catalog items–beach towels, T-shirts, candles and more.
But the school fund-raiser is over.
And he turned in only the checks–not the cash–that people gave him.
One Belmont County mother bought $46 worth of items.
When the man reached into an envelope to make change, she saw the large wad of money he was carrying.
“It was probably between $500 and $1,000.” said the woman who wants to be identified only as “Chelsey.”
This scamming dad, who was first collecting for a St. Clairsville fifth grade trip to CoSi, is now apparently branching out.
“We had a mother who came in yesterday and said she had bought more than $100 worth of items,” noted Jeff Gazdik, St. Clairsville resource officer and police officer. “And he told her it was for Bridgeport Schools and their end of the year trip to Carnegie.”
Chelsey said she bought several items for her older daughter, including flowers and a beach towel she liked.
But after the news reports came out, she had to break the news to the child that she wouldn’t be getting her presents after all.
“And she said, ‘But Mom, he was so nice!’ ” said Chelsey. “And it was sad to have to explain that to her, at seven years old.”
But she was able to give police detailed descriptions, even down to his license plate.
And that helped the case.
Police urge people to be observant in every transaction.
Right now, the man has promised to come in and talk to police, but he hasn’t shown up.
So they’ll pursue a warrant.
Chelsey is most shocked that the man takes one of his children along with him on his crime sprees.
“I just hope they are not aware of what he is actually doing,” she said.
Police say the man has a criminal history.
But this particular crime seems the worst.
“Personally, I think it’s terrible that he’s using our school, our name, our fifth grade, going out and doing this,” said Officer Gazdik. “He’s stealing from people. But hopefully he’ll pay his price in court.”
Anyone with information, or anyone who was victimized by the phony fund-raiser, is urged to call St. Clairsville Police at (740) 695-0123.