NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – It was an event that was supposed to raise money for autism, but now that money has disappeared. It was a wrestling match in East Haven last month. The wrestlers and the charity are all saying the man behind the match never paid them.
The event itself seemed like a success. They sold about 600 tickets to see wrestlers from Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling. It was called “Wrestling for Autism,” and it all started when a man reached out to the guys at Paradise Alley.
“And then we started promoting it,” said Leonard Inzitari a.k.a. “Mario Mancini” of Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling. “He told me it was for autism. His daughter is autistic.”
They were told the proceeds from wrestling would go to Autism Services and Resources Connecticut, the ASRC. Paradise Alley just asked the man with the autistic daughter to cover the expenses.
“And when he gave me the check for the expenses, we deposited it the night of the show in the ATM, and I found out on Thursday the 26th that it bounced,” Inzitari said.
A week and a half later, we now know the ASRC never got its money either, an estimated total of $5,000. Lois Rosenwald, Executive Director of the ASRC, wrote in an email, “This hurts that someone would pull a scam like this, using a small organization like ours that has worked so hard for families and individuals on the spectrum.”
The guys from Paradise Alley say they have since learned this man may have pulled scams like this before. Now, they say, they feel deceived.
“He came in, we welcomed him with open arms to the school, tried to do everything we could to help him,” said Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling’s Paul Perez.
Now they are going to do everything can for autism charities directly, with another fundraiser next month.
“We’re going to try to right the wrong. We’re going to run a show for autism,” explained Paul Roma of Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling. “We’re going to do everything that we can. Hopefully we will get the support that we had last show.”
The show will be Saturday, June 24th at the East Haven Veterans Memorial Ice Rink.
Messages left at the last known phone number for the man behind the wrestling match were not returned. News 8 is not using his name in this story because we have not been able to contact him, and have not heard his side of this story.