Man arrested for fundraising scam

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 5, 2012


EASTPOINTE — Police have arrested an Eastpointe man who they believe is behind an Entertainment Book scam on local businesses and residents.

Roger Koerber, 46, of Eastpointe, was arrested Nov. 25 at a friend’s house in Roseville — where police said he was hiding out — and charged with three misdemeanor counts of larceny by false pretenses less than $200.

He is accused of falsely identifying himself as a representative of East Detroit High School selling the Entertainment Book as part of a fundraiser for the athletic department at the school. The fundraiser was completely fictional.

“The school was in no way involved with this,” said Joanne Lelekatch, East Detroit Public Schools superintendent. “It wasn’t an East Detroit fundraiser. If it was, it would have had to be sanctioned by the district.”

Koerber allegedly approached local business owners, saying he was selling the 2013 Entertainment Book at a reduced rate of $20 as part of a fundraiser that the high school was doing to fix a broken scoreboard.

“He was charged with misdemeanors because of the small dollar amount,” said Lt. Dave Ernatt of the Eastpointe Police Department. “It’s a 93-day misdemeanor with up to a $500 fine. If he pleads guilty, or is found guilty, his time will be served concurrently, meaning that he would serve just 93 days for all three counts.”

Koerber is scheduled to appear in front of Judge Carl Gerds for a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. Dec. 12 in 38th District Court in Eastpointe. He is being held in Macomb County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

This is not Koerber’s first time in trouble with the law. He served a year in Wayne County Jail, when he pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzlement by an agent or trustee, greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000, in 2008. And, he’s currently on probation for almost the same charge he currently faces.

In 2009, he pleaded guilty to larceny by false pretenses, greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000. If found guilty of the charges against him at this time, Koerber may face additional charges for breaking the terms of his probation, which says he cannot violate any criminal law.

Koerber is being represented by Mark Vrana, a court-appointed attorney.

“I only got the notice I was appointed to the case today,” Vrana said, when spoken to at press time. “I don’t really know a whole lot at this point. Typically, when appointed a case, the first thing we do is request a copy of the police record and go from there.”

Vrana said he’d familiarize himself with the case and the defendant’s criminal history prior to the pretrial and would have more information after the Dec. 12 court date.

Vince Riggi, the owner of a local insurance company, Riggi and Associates, is one of three local business owners whom Koerber allegedly scammed. He’s hoping that, if there are more victims, they’ll come forward before the pretrial or during it.

“This guy has a record; he’s done this before,” Riggi said. “I hope more people come forward. If there are more victims, I hope they all come forward, come to the court date. I’ll be there.”

Riggi said that it’s not about the $20.

“It’s about the lie. He said he was doing this for the kids. He falsely represented himself. The people who were scammed by him were scammed because they wanted to do something for the kids.”