Nov 4, 2022 - News

Arrested Sarasota man allegedly offered fake $3M donation to Dick Vitale's cancer charity

Dick Vitale at the 2022 ESPYs. Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office says it has arrested on a charge of fraud a man who claimed to be helping out with post-Ian relief but tried to deceive sportscaster Dick Vitale and others along the way.

What's happening: Deputies say Robert Schnepf, 48, a two-time convicted felon, used the name Robert Banagino when trying to fraudulently purchase some $23 million in real estate and a 2022 Mercedes Benz S-Class for $132,042.79 last week.

  • Schnepf, as Banagino, said he was a New York businessman visiting in response to Hurricane Ian, and claimed he had over $127 million in his account that he needed to donate for tax purposes, per the Sheriff's Office.

Yes, but: It was all a hoax, and sportscaster Dick Vitale was one of its targets, authorities say.

  • Vitale runs the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, to which Schnepf pledged to donate $3 million. Schnepf accepted a signed basketball from him but refused to take a photo with Vitale, according to deputies.

What they're saying: "I believed that we had $3 Million for kids vs cancer," Vitale tweeted. "I am sick to think in my house he was hugging my wife & I & so happy."

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more