Streetsboro fundraiser for rock legend Sonny Geraci headed to grand jury over missing funds

Venue employees concerned about paychecks

STREETSBORO, Ohio - It's now been two months, and nearly $24,000 raised for 70s rock legend Sonny Geraci are still missing.

A November fundraiser for Geraci took place at the Stringz and Wingz Zplex in Streetsboro, but event organizers report venue owner Bill Thompson has so far failed to come up with any funds.

The Portage County Prosecutor confirms the case has now been turned over to a grand jury, which will consider potential theft charges against Thompson.

Meanwhile, Stringz and Wingz has been shut down until further notice, and 30 employees are wondering if they'll see their paychecks.

Lindsey Brigadier worked for Thompson at Stringz and Wingz and told NewsChannel5 employees are still owed three weeks' pay.

"We stuck by him as long as we could. We still aren't throwing him under the bus, or saying we don't want anything to do with him, but we need our money," Brigadier said.

"We do love him. It is unfortunate that everything has had to happen this way. I think that there could have been better choices made, not with just the Sonny Geraci event, but going back to the beginning of the summer," she added.

Chuck Kocisko helped lead the Geraci fundraiser, hoping to generate important dollars to help Geraci recover from a debilitating aneurysm suffered 18 months ago.

Kocisko is pleased the case is now in the hands of the legal system, and told NewsChannel5 he believes Thompson has committed a crime.

"Absolutely, there is no question about it. He stole the money, that's the way I look at it," said Kocisko. "I mean, maybe my term is a little harsh, but if you have some money coming to you, and it's not paid, I can't think of a better term than that it was stolen."

Kocisko admits he didn't have a contract with Stringz and Wingz owner Bill Thompson, and had only a handshake deal.

Kocisko told NewsChannel5 he has been left frustrated after Thompson told him he would turn over the nearly $24,000 in funds to the Geraci family numerous times.

"Three times he told me he wired the money to us, and three times I went to him and said, 'Look, I didn't get the money. What happened?'" said Kocisko. "I believe the fourth time he said to me that it was a mixture of numbers or something and that's why it didn't go to our bank."

"I'm sick to the bottom of my stomach over this whole issue, that I even had to go to the police department, that was not my intentions."

NewsChannel5 reached Bill Thompson at his Cuyahoga Falls home to get his side of the story back on Jan. 13, but he failed to respond for an update on Jan. 22.

Thompson explained he had every intention of releasing the funds to the Geraci family, but delays were caused by a large amount of paperwork.

"It took me six to eight weeks for accounting," said Thompson. "I mean, you have paperwork this big, over 400 documents that I had to track. PayPal, on-line tickets, match them all up."

On Jan. 13 Thompson agreed he would wire some of the funds immediately, and then pay the balance of the nearly $24,000 within the next 10 days, but so far no payments have been made to the Geraci family or his employees.

NewsChannel5 will follow up on this case.

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