ActivePaper Archive $7,200 missing in fake Toys for Tots fundraiser - Hobbs News Sun, 1/4/2019

$7,200 missing in fake Toys for Tots fundraiser

Multiple Hobbs businesses may have been swindled out of money they thought was going to children in need.

Sponsorship money in the amount of $7,200 for a charity golf tournament for Toys for Tots held at Rockwind Community Links Golf Course is missing.

Rockwind staff set up a golf tournament with a man named John Mark Moyers as a charity event for Toys for Tots at the golf course, according to a Hobbs Police Department incident report from Dec. 19.

On Dec. 15, the day of the tournament, Moyers said he was having car troubles and couldn’t make it to the event. Golf course operations coordinator for Rock-wind, Aaron Berry, said Moyers had $7,200 in sponsorship money including $840 in green fees from players in the tournament, according to the report. Moyers is listed as a suspect in the incident.

Berry let players use the course anyway but contacted the HPD four days later saying he couldn’t get in contact with Moyers after reaching out to him several times. Berry told officers Moyers had similar situations with other golf courses, according to a police report.

Among the many local businesses that donated money to the charity were Burger Builders, Firehouse Subs, First American Bank, Double R Pipe, Pizza Inn, Forest Tire, Vape Scape, Tate Branch Auto Group and Hobbs Family Inn, Berry told the Hobbs News-Sun.

Although Rockwind coordinated the tournament, Hobbs Director of Communications Meghan Mooney said the only monetary loss to the city is the $840 for green fees collected from players who participated in the golf tournament.

Rockwind was scheduled as the location for the tournament, but Moyers raised the $7,200 and Rockwind was not directly involved in the fundraiser, Mooney said.

“We hold no responsibility,” Mooney said. “Rockwind staff has no role in collecting entry fees or sponsorship funds for fundraising tournaments at the facility. They gave their funds to Mr. Moyers. They did not give them to Rock-wind.”

Mooney said once a Fifth Judicial district attorney concludes Moyers committed fraud, charges will be brought against him. The city will work to recover the money lost in restitution.

“We’re a victim just like the sponsors and participants. It was a serious situation of dishonesty,” Mooney said.

Brandon Acevedo, general manager of Pizza Inn, said a man named “Mark” solicited donations for the fundraiser from Pizza Inn. Acevedo chose a $200 package that covered the green fee for the charity tournament as well as company name placement on a banner that would be displayed at the tournament.

Acevedo said when he arrived at the tournament, there was no advertisement banner with sponsors’ names. Initially, he was told the tournament was going to be canceled because Moyers wasn’t there but Berry allowed the players to play the tournament without the green fees Moyers made off with.

Acevedo said he found it puzzling that players didn’t receive prizes as he was told by Moyers (Moyers’ full name is John Mark Moyers) there would be prizes for golfers who placed in the tournament.

“Rockwind was nice enough to let us play even though the guy who was throwing it didn’t show up,” Acevedo said. “We didn’t care about the prizes because they were for Toys for Tots anyway.”

Acevedo told the News-Sun he wasn’t aware the charity money was stolen and was worried about whether the money would get to the children in need like it was supposed to.

Deputy City Attorney Eric Scramlin said he’s not involved in this specific case of fraud, but typically the police would notify victims during this type of investigation. Police might have to wait for victims to come forward if there are too many, he said.

Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall did not respond to an e-mail from the News-Sun inquiring about the case.

Vice president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, David Cooper, said out of 808 campaign coordinators John Moyers isn’t listed as one. Cooper said Toys for Tots has 15 campaigns in New Mexico and the 501(c)(3) didn’t have any campaigns in Lea County at all.

Sara MacNeil can be reached at reporter@ hobbsnews.com.