Promoter of Autism Charity Fundraiser Appears in Court

The promoter accused of issuing a bad check for a wrestling match to benefit an autism non-profit is breaking his silence.

"I truly am sorry and, I am, I am going to make things right," promoter James Raymond told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Autism Services & Resources Connecticut (ASRC) was supposed to benefit from the wrestling match but while hundreds of seats were sold for the event, the charity never saw a cent.

Co-owner of Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling (PAPW), the venue for the charity event, Mario Mancini, said he wants to see what happens.

"We've all made mistakes, some small, some big and he wants to make good for it, so let's see what happens,” Mancini told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Before court Wednesday morning, Raymond did not want to speak on camera, but after court, he had a change of heart, pulling aside one of the owners of the Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling school to let him know, he wants to fix things. The two exchanged a handshake outside court in New Haven.

“I never meant for this to get this far. I'm sorry about everything and I’m going to make it right," Raymond said. "To everyone involved. ASRC, PAPW and everyone. Ill will was never my intention.”

James Raymond applied for a public defender in court on Wednesday, nearly wo weeks after East Haven police charged him with issuing a bad check. Authorities said the $1,800 check Raymond wrote Mancini, for ring fees that night, bounced. In addition to the bounced checks to the wrestling school, ASRC was supposed to get the monies raised but never did.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters asked Raymond if he could explain what happened to the money.

“I cannot, without talking to my lawyer. I’m going to work on stuff with my lawyer and then we'll be in contact and i want to sit down and talk with them personally myself and explain everything,” Raymond said.

After court, Raymond approached Mancini about a three-installment payment plan to return those rings fees to PAPW.

“The thing I ask is that it's on the court record. With the court; the payment plan. Absolutely, I mean, in life if people sincerely apologize you accept it and that's the right thing to do,” Mancini said.

Raymond's young daughter is autistic. Wrestlers, including Mancini, grew attached to the little girl leading up to the match. NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters relayed to Raymond, that several wrestlers believe he used his autistic daughter as a ploy.

“That wasn't the case at all, at all. Why would I do anything that's going to hurt the progression of my daughter?" Raymond asked.

The wrestling school’s co-owner said Raymond expressed compassion.

“I saw a lot of remorse in particular talking about his daughter,” Mancini added.

On June 25, the wrestlers hosted a make-up autism fundraiser for ASRC and raised $7,500.

But what about the funds ASRC never received from that original event in April?

“I would like to see some funds go to the ASRC, I don't know what his personal financial situation is,” Mancini stated.

After court Mancini said off camera the money Raymond returns to PAPW will go to ASRC and that the wrestling school plans to host a benefit for the non-profit every spring.

Raymond said he'll let NBC Connecticut know more about what happened with the funds, but initially emailed to say he did not anticipate all the costs going into planning such a big event.

Here is that original statement James Raymond released to NBC Connecticut back in May:

“On April 22nd 2017 I threw an event called Wrestling for Autism in East Haven, CT. This event I had spent 5 months preparing for. I wanted to help raise awareness and acceptance for autism and donate any net proceeds to a charity to help out in any way possible. I have a daughter who is autistic and we had a lot of help and support from the autism community. So this was one way for me to try and give back to a community who has helped my daughter grow with continued support. Without this community I do not know where we would be right now with my daughter. So this was a great opportunity for me to try and do something to give back.

I realized during the process I did not set a proper budget in place to help me control the expenses as the event was shaping up. I thought with getting bigger name wrestlers it would help me raise more awareness and help me possibly make more net proceeds. I was not taking in to consideration the higher cost a bigger name wrestler would be or where I would have to fly them in from and hotel costs for these wrestlers. Along with all the costs of the wrestlers I still had other costs that would come into play. those costs would be the cost of the e-commerce site to sell the tickets, promotional materials, food for the concession stand, event costs for promotional events leading up to the initial event, t-shirts for the event, graphic design for all the event posters and online promotions of the event. All these cost added up fast. I was trying to put together a great event for a great cause. With all the costs of the event though we ended up having no net proceeds to donate.”

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