Police: Shore man allegedly stole hurricane relief funds for Puerto Rico
An Atlantic County man allegedly stole the proceeds from a hurricane relief event for Puerto Rico, police say.
Michael Einwechter, 38, of Longport was charged with theft of checks and money by the Ventnor City Police Department and released on a summons in accordance with bail reform guidelines, Ventnor City Chief Douglas Biagi said in a release.
Einwechter, the president of Amazing Ventnor, a non-profit tourism promotion organization, organized the Puerto Rico Relief Benefit Concert held at Ski Beach in Ventnor City on Oct. 15, according to police.
The event was reportedly well attended and supported by volunteers, organizations, musicians, and area merchants.
Authorities say the proceeds were set to benefit Unidos Por Puerto Rico (United For Puerto Rico), an organization shipping and distributing supplies to hurricane survivors.
But Biagi told Philly.com that only a portion of the money raised was donated, with some of the money spent on a pickup truck.
“It’s devastating,” the police chief told Philly.com. “These people put in money out of their own pockets. Merchants put in their foods. Singers, dancers. It was a wonderful day. Everybody who put $5 in, who bought a green bracelet, the merchants, the volunteers with their time — every little kid walking around in a volunteer T-shirt.”
Einwechter was interviewed and subsequently charged after a month long investigation by Ventor City Det. Sgt. Jason Rzemyk and Det. Sgt. Ted Bergman.
A pickup truck owned by Einwechter was also seized by the police department, according to police.
The Ventnor man addressed his arrest in a Facebook post.
“After the dust settles and all is clear I will try to find it in my heart to do good for the community again. I am sincerely sorry it has come to this. I am sorry to anyone and everyone involved,” he wrote.