VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – An Ormond Beach man was arrested Friday after detectives said he defrauded local businesses and a former NFL player while running a charity for homeless veterans.
Detectives with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said they started investigating Christopher Blake, 46, after one of the business owners deputies said he defrauded stepped forward because he saw a picture of Blake and Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood on Facebook.
Blake, the founder of Second Chance for Veterans Foundation, is accused of defrauding people out of less than $ 20,000 under the guise of hosting a charity golf tournament to benefit homeless veterans in Debary. He was arrested Friday, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andrew Grant said.
Sheriff’s Office detectives said Blake hosted the Oct. 28 event at the Debary Golf and Country Club where people donated $ 100 to play golf and eat lunch.
Former NFL running back Gerald Riggs agreed to make an appearance at the event for $ 2,500. He attended the tournament, but when he returned home the check Blake wrote him bounced, detectives said.
Riggs told detectives he contacted Blake and told him to stop using his name in association with Second Chance Veterans Foundation.
Payments by credit card and checks Blake sent to the country club and Holiday Inn also bounced, according to the report.
One of the victims, a sign and graphics business owner, contacted the Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 18 after he saw a photo of Blake and Chitwood on Facebook and thought Blake was defrauding people, according to the report.
The business owner told detectives that Blake said he was hosting a charity golf tournament at the Debary Golf and Country Club and asked for more than $ 500 in banners for the event, according to the report. The victim said Blake never received payment despite multiple attempts to contact him.
Detectives also determined a 2018 Memorial Day raffle of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle listed on Blake’s website, in which ticket purchases would go toward helping homeless veterans, was a fraud. Blake said the bike was donated by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson and on display at Ace Cafe in Orlando.
No bike was on display at Ace Cafe and the Harley-Davidson dealership did not donate a bike to Second Chance for Veterans, management at both businesses told detectives.
On Friday, Blake’s Facebook profile picture still featured the Volusia County sheriff with a “Merry Christmas” photo frame.
The day before he was arrested, Blake posted a message offering forgiveness and an apology to Facebook:
“I’m walking into 2018 with a clear heart and mind…If you owe me, don’t worry about it – you’re welcome … If you’ve wronged me, it’s all good – lesson learned…If you’re angry with me, you’ve won … If we aren’t speaking, its cool (I love you and I wish you well) … If you feel I’ve wronged you, I apologize…Life is too short for all the pent up anger, holding grudges and extra pain! … Here’s to 2018!!!…Feel free to copy and paste, spread the positive forgiveness! Love to all.”
In another post, he asked for donations to Second Chance for Veterans. The Sheriff’s Office is warning people against donating to Blake’s website and Grant said there may be other fraud victims.
Second Chance Veterans Foundation is registered to a post office box in Ormond Beach, according to nonprofit tracker Guidestar.org. IRS records shows that the nonprofit did not file its required tax-exempt Form 990.
Blake is charged with an organized scheme to defraud. His bail is set at $ 10,000, Volusia County Jail records show.
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