Casper Police Department Investigates Bare Knuckle Fight Sponsor
The Casper Police Department has opened a criminal investigation of the sponsor "Rise of the Titans" bare knuckle fights in November who allegedly has not paid local businesses and fighters, a detective said Wednesday.
"I have three fighters that have reached out to me, and two businesses," detective Shannon Daley said.
On Nov. 8, the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation presented the "Rise of the Titans" event at the Casper Events Center. The event attracted numerous well-known fighters and received widespread publicity.
However, there were indications of some problems before the fight, with two headliners backing out over contract disputes.
The problems escalated after the fights when hotels, media companies and other businesses reported they had not been paid. A website that tracks the mixed martial arts sports added fighters themselves had not been paid.
The Police Department is looking at the possible reasons why, Daley said.
"We're trying to determine if it was improper accounting, you know just they were expecting money and didn't get it, or if the whole thing was a sham," she said. "And that's going to decide which way the investigation goes and what charges would be applicable."
It is possible that money problems were caused by a sponsorship backed out at the last minute or just bad bookkeeping, she said.
It's also possible it was fraud, too, but the investigation is still young, she added.
"I don't have proof of any of these scenarios, but if there was never any money at all, that's a totally different crime stature," Daley said.
She has obtained a search warrant for bank records from Natrona County Circuit Court, but they have not been returned yet, she said.
The World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation was formed by Tomasz Stankiewicz on June 25, 2018, according to the Wyoming Secretary of State.
That was two months after Stankiewicz pleaded guilty to wire fraud in running a scheme in the Chicago area that caused buyers to fraudulently qualify for at least eight Federal Housing Administration loans for more than $2.1 million.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22 in U.S. District Court in in the Northern District of Illinois. He faces up to nearly six years imprisonment.
According to a court document asking for a reduced sentence for Stankiewicz, the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation is waiting for its payout from the cable media provider, which typically occurs 90 days after the event.
Stankiewicz did not return a call seeking comment.
In 2012, former Gov. Matt Mead signed into law the bill that created the State Board of Mixed Martial Arts, which oversees and regulates the sport.
"Fighter safety and development of the combat sports industry are our top priorities," according to its website. "We plan to make Wyoming the vanguard for modern regulation of American Mixed Martial Arts."
The board did not immediately return a call and email asking whether it deals with situations about promoters allegedly not paying their bills.