East Haven PD arrest man accused of scamming wrestling school for charity event

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EAST HAVEN --  Police have officially charged the man who was accused of scamming a wrestling school holding an autism charity event.

On April 24, police said Raymond, 35, hosted a Wrestling for Autism event which drew in hundreds of spectators and raked in thousands of dollars for autism awareness.

The Paradise Valley Wrestling School said they tried several times to handle the situation on their own. However, they said the man started ignoring their texts and phone calls and that is when they called police.

"During the following months, investigators attempted to contact Raymond but were unsuccessful, partially because of Raymond disconnecting his phone line because of all of the harassing calls and texts he was receiving.  Once it was clear that Raymond had no intention to cooperate with the investigation, an arrest warrant affidavit was submitted," police said.

"You see this stuff. You see people get scammed and you're like nah, this didn't happen," said Ralph Murray, a wrestler of the school.

Raymond approached the school to throw a charity event on April 22, 2017 to raise money that would go toward autism awareness and the wrestlers.

"He brought his daughter who we were told was autistic," added Murray.

15 to 20 wrestlers took part in the four-hour event. They believe close to $7,000 was raised. Police said Raymond wrote a check to the school for $1,800 and four days later, the check bounced. The owner, Mario Mancini, said he made multiple attempts in giving Raymond several chances to hand over the money.

"That was a month that was hard to pay the bills," said Mancini.

Not only did some of the wrestlers not get paid, but the money raised never went to the Autism Services & Resources Connecticut.

"It wasn't even about us as wrestlers or us as grown adults and not getting paid. It was about what the money was intended for. You got caught! You got caught," added Murray.

FOX61 knocked on his door several times, but got no reply and tonight, the owner had this message to send to him.

"Good people don't do that," added Mancini.

The school will be having another event this Sunday where this time, all proceeds will go towards autism awareness. It will be held at the East Haven Veterans Memorial Hockey Rink where doors will open at 2:30 p.m.

Officers said they take incidents like these "very seriously" because these types of crimes can discourage people from supporting good causes.

"East Haven has always been a tight knit community that comes together to support people in need and will continue to do so.  We want the public to know that this isolated incident in no way reflects the values of other charitable events that are held throughout the year to benefit worthy causes," said police.

Raymond was charged with issuing a bad check in violation of Connecticut General Statute.  He is scheduled to appear in court on July 5.