Organizer of Casper Bare Knuckle Fights Charged with Defrauding Businesses
The Illinois man who organized the bare knuckle fights in Casper in November has been charged with two felonies for not paying local vendors, the Natrona County District Attorney and a Casper police detective said Friday.
Tomasz Stankiewicz is charged with one count of check fraud and one count of defrauding an innkeeper, detective Shannon Daley said.
The Natrona County Sheriff's Office has an active warrant for his arrest, District Attorney Dan Itzen said.
But it will be a year at least, if at all, if Stankiewicz returns to face the charges in district court because he will be serving a one-year federal prison sentence for wire fraud affecting a financial institution, according to the sentence recently handed down in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois.
Besides prison and three years of probation after his release, he was ordered to pay $50,000 immediately, and $2,408,684 in restitution to banks in Florida, Texas, Illinois and Missouri, according to the judgment. Stankiewicz also is subject to deportation to his native country of Poland.
He pleaded guilty to the crime in March 2018, three months before he incorporated the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation in Wyoming in June.
After that, he contacted local vendors for lodging, transportation, sound and lighting, and other services in preparation for the federation's "Rise of the Titans' fights at the Casper Events Center on Nov. 8. 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. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison on each count.
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.
Last month, Forbes reported that Chris "The Crippler" Leben sued Stankiewicz and the federation for $90,000 in San Diego Superior Court. Leben was promised $100,000 from Stankiewicz, but was paid only $10,000.
Meanwhile, the Casper Police Department opened a criminal investigation.
Daley said she could verify $60,000 in check fraud, a hotel that was defrauded of $3,800, and a transportation service that was defrauded of $2,250. Some businesses declined to provide information to her, she said.