Organizers ask 19 investigators for help recovering missing money after benefit event for stroke victim

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) — Months after a fundraiser for a local stroke victim, her family says she hasn’t received a penny.

Ross Dorrell was just 59 last May when he suffered a massive stroke.

His daughter, Sydney Sines, says Dorrell is not yet able to speak and is still living in a rehab facility.

“He’s definitely still Ross, just a little bit different,” she said.

Knowing that he would have a lot of medical expenses, his group wanted to organize a benefit event.

That’s when they say the managers of Frankie’s Tavern in Painesville contacted the messenger, offering to host the event.

“I was so grateful, my dad is coming from a lot, so knowing we would have financial support while we’re right now to wrap things up was a relief,” Sines said.

But that relief slowly turned into heartache and a 222-page police report.

Denise Cogar led the event which included a 50-50 raffle, auction, t-shirt sales and ticket sales to enter.

“We had a very organized system where the person counted the money, I counted it with them, and then we put it in a Ziplock bag,” Cogar said. “The manager said he would put it upstairs in a safe.”

But to this day, we don’t know where all the money is.

“We estimate around $20,000,” Cogar said.

And she says she and Durrell’s family saw a penny.

We do not name the bar managers, as they have not been charged with a crime.

That’s why Cogar is upset, though.

She says the managers she worked with constantly made excuses and changed the amount earned that night.

Regardless of the back and forth over what was raised, Cogar again said the family saw nothing of it.

Sines said: “If we could have handled this privately, we would have. But it’s been almost a year now and we don’t have a solution. So we think it’s about time people know we didn’t take advantage of it.

In Ohio, theft over $1,000 is a felony.

The report the Lake County Sheriff’s Department took last fall includes pages and pages of text messages with managers.

One of them said, “I’ll do a buffet, free of charge.

There are also dozens of receipts and statements from Ross’ family members who are still waiting for money.

The deputy handling the case emailed Cogar and said he was gathering all of this information and would send it to the city attorney “so he can determine if any charges can be brought.” “.

During his examination, the prosecutor wrote – “no charges, civil matter”.

“There are no criminal charges?” Cogar said. “It may not be so black and white, but to me it is. I mean, where’s the money?

According to City Attorney Ron Graham, the fact that no one has an answer to this is the problem with bringing charges.

He says Cash is extremely difficult to trace. He tells us that all the evidence on file is not enough to prove that the managers or anyone else pocketed the proceeds.

19 Investigators have discovered that the bar is closed at the moment.

The sign on the front says “verify FB”, which means Facebook. We did and unfortunately it is said to be due to a lack of staff.

19 Investigators have found Frank Salers, the man who opened the bar years ago with his name on it.

The police report shows he contacted MPs in November when he learned the family had never received any money from the fundraiser held at the bar.

He says he doesn’t know where the money is either.

Salers told police his family had been “away from day-to-day operations for over two years.”

The two family managers who ran the place have “full control of receipts, bills and deposits.”

He says he tried to ask the managers about the missing funds on the night of the event, and their answers didn’t make sense to him either.

“It’s beyond your imagination to think that someone wouldn’t give the money to the family that day or the next day,” he said.

“I never thought it would be the own result,” Cogar said. “I don’t feel like he’s in charge, the owner of the business, but whoever worked there is.”

19 Investigators called both managers for their version of this story.

They referred us to their attorney, who says they didn’t steal any money.

The attorney says the fundraiser didn’t raise $20,000. And, he said managers should subtract food and labor from the lesser amount that was collected.

Managers say they tried to hand over the money, but the family did not designate a contact person to accept it.

The family says that’s just not true.

“We don’t know if we’ll make a penny out of it, but we’ve decided that even if we don’t make a penny out of it, the public deserves to know,” Cogar said.

She wants them to know that the financial burden has not been lifted from Dorrell’s family and whoever is to blame has not been held accountable.

“They robbed a sick person, his family and friends and a whole community that was there to support him that day,” she said.

We contacted county prosecutors to see if they would look into the case. A spokesperson told us no-not unless the city attorney sent it to them, which he didn’t.

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Joseph K. Bennett