Suspect defrauds Make-A-Wish Foundation

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The following is a press release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

SPRING VALLEY, Ariz. -- On August 30, 2008, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office charged a 53-year-old Spring Valley man with Fraudulent Schemes and Theft from the Illinois chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The suspect, identified as Douglas Ray Riesberg, is accused of scamming the foundation out of $11,000 dollars and causing a huge disappointment to a very sick 16-year-old-boy in Chicago with a terminal medical condition.

During late March of this year, Riesberg agreed to deliver a custom go-kart to a Make-A-Wish child and accepted $11,000 from the Foundation to cover the cost. Although the kart was expected to be completed within three weeks, the Make-A-Wish staff never heard from Riesberg until their lawyer found him in early June and demanded the finished kart. Make-A-Wish followed up with a demand letter and Riesberg promised delivery in July after completing some finish work on the kart. YCSO was also contacted and completed a report covering the events to date while Make-A-Wish sought civil remedies.

By August, Make-A-Wish requested law enforcement intervention as there had been no effort from Riesberg to deliver a go-kart or return their money.

During the investigation, deputies learned Riesberg had ordered the basic go-kart assembly from another company in March, but had never picked it up. The Make-A-Wish child had already been promised a delivery date by Riesberg, but he never arrived at the boy's home. During the last week of August, deputies discovered Riesberg was in-custody at the Prescott Detention Center on un-related drug charges. Deputies interviewed Riesberg on August 30th in the jail. Riesberg admitted to the agreement with Make-A-Wish, but claimed difficulty in obtaining a new go-kart for the child. Instead, he had planned to deliver his personal go-kart until he could work out details for the custom kart and as a result, had no intention of returning the Make-A-Wish money. Later in the interview, Riesberg acknowledged he lost several thousand dollars in a business deal gone wrong and used the Make-A-Wish money to cover some of the loss.

Deputies spoke with the mother of the child who had expected to receive the custom go-kart. She explained that her son had been in constant phone contact with Riesberg and they discussed the soon-to-be delivered go-kart. Riesberg also told the child he was a millionaire and had several homes. Riesberg agreed to meet the child and mom on August 15th at the airport to deliver the kart. The child was taken off his kidney dialysis and they drove to the airport, but Riesberg was not present. The child received a text message from Riesberg claiming the flight was delayed and to expect him within 30 minutes, but he never arrived.

Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at (928) 771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov