Promoter Denies Charity Fraud

A Florida musician and concert promoter was charged June 5th with organized fraud for allegedly collecting money on behalf of two charity organizations and keeping the proceeds. The promoter’s attorney says that’s not true and he can prove it.

Investigators claim Lee Koenig, whose Web site lists him as performing with artists including Bertie Higgins, the original Drifters and Percy Sledge, promoted the "Rockin’ on the Riverkeeper" concert at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce last August to raise money for the Indian Riverkeepers organization.

He also promoted an event for the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast – but neither organization has seen a dime and allege Koenig has collected at least $80,000 that should have gone to them.

Koenig turned himself in to Martin County police June 5th on the organized fraud warrant and was released on $50,000 bail, according to the Palm Beach Post.

His attorney, Michael Brubin, said his client hasn’t done anything underhanded.

"This is a guy who is not a criminal type," Brubin told Pollstar. "I’ve handled lots of these types of fraud cases before and this doesn’t fit the pattern of any of them.

"He’s got everything in the works. He’s not a fly-by-night guy."

Investigators claim Koenig took in about $25,000 in ad sales for the program used for the Indian Riverkeeper event and nearly $15,000 from ticket sales, the Post said.

"I wouldn’t believe anyone with a degree of humanity could do such a thing," Riverkeeper Executive Director Kevin Stinette told the paper. "It was just a sob story every time we would see him."

Brubin says Riverkeeper officials were unrealistic in their expectations.

"What the Riverkeeper is not understanding is that Lee took 900 tickets and gave them to the sponsors, which he had a right to do. The remainder of the tickets were accounted for and we’ve got all that paperwork," Brubin said. "A lot of [the expenses] actually came out of [Koenig’s] pocket. It’s not like he does this for a living."

The drummer is also accused of collecting money for a "Dollars for Collars" concert to benefit the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast but postponed the event a couple of times. The organization has since backed out of its affiliation with the concert because of the alleged dispute, according to the Post.

The concert is scheduled take place August 25th at the Martin County Fairgrounds, according to Koenig’s Web site.

"The Humane Society [gig] is a totally different issue. That was canceled in December to get more advertisers and sponsors on board," Brubin explained. "The program’s already at the printer. The show is going to go on.

"This started off because one woman went to the police. She didn’t like the show being canceled but she’s gotten her money back. They’re putting [Koenig] in a spot now and we just don’t understand it."

No court date had been set at press time.