I-Team: Family says Vito Sweitzer Memorial Bike Ride is a scam
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A memorial ride in honor of a motorcyclist who was killed last year was slated for this weekend. The only problem---the family of Vito Sweitzer says the organizers are ripping people off.
For the loved ones of Vito Sweitzer, the pain of losing him magnifies everytime they hear about The Second Annual Vito Sweitzer Memorial Bike Ride.
“Hurtful,” says Amanda Farmer, the mother of Vito’s daughter. “It makes me very bitter. “
The 29-year old was killed in motorcycle crash in May 2016 in Downtown Kalamazoo.
Now, friends of Vito say they're trying to raise money in honor of Vito.
“I don't like it and I’m very furious with the fact that that name is being smeared,” says Bill Sweitzer, father of Vito. “They're using it in a way it's not doing what it's supposed to be doing.”
The memorial bike ride is supposed to be raising money for Vito's daughter, 12-year old Jazmine. It says so right on the bottom of the flyer.
“It said it would be in Jazmine's benefit and into her college fund,” says Sweitzer. He also says ride organizers Dawn and Anthony Farrah haven't given Jazmine a single dime.
“Hurt, angry,” says Sweitzer describing his feelings. “One of the big things is that Anthony, the gentleman, keeps telling me he's not a thief and all I've asked him to do is prove me wrong.”
While not a thief, Anthony Farrah has had his own run-ins with the law including felony fleeing and eluding police. Farrah has also eluded the Newschannel3 I-team as we worked to get his side of the story. The I-Team gave Farrah several chances to comment on our story but he never showed.
“I just don't want to go through this every year. I just want to put an end to it,” says Sweitzer.
Late Thursday, the I-team learned the memorial ride, which was slated to happen at The Dock at Bayview, was cancelled.
Ride organizer Anthony Farrah also sent the I-Team an e-mail shortly before the story aired:
"I was informed this week that Bill Sweitzer is accusing me of stealing from the Vito ride we put on last year to honor our best friend and brother. I have been advised by my lawyer not to go on the news, but to respond in writing. My response is, meet me in court. I am innocent of these false accusations. Every penny is accounted for and will be shown when we go to court. Really sad that a good ride and a great benefit to his daughter has been ruined. Vito’s daughter is my only concern here. When she turns 18 this ride could have made her a lot of money for college. Unfortunately, the ride must go to a celebration instead of a fundraiser ride to make money for her, not by my choice, but by his family’s choice. Takes a few years to make money off a ride. We were working towards that. However, now we must go to a free ride to celebrate Vito’s memory. Wish we could have worked this out together. I have tried my hardest to do that, but they have not cooperated (which will be shown in court as well). I am not going to air everything for the public to see and be a part of. Instead, I am simply responding to these accusations and walking away from this benefit. I have all the proof I need to show a judge and only a judge. I would have never aired any of this to the public. But, I cannot control the actions of others. I can only control my actions. My choice is to not slander Vito’s family. If news channel 3 decides to air this unfounded story, that is on the news channel 3, not me. These allegations are false and anyone who slanders my name will be a part of the court proceedings if we feel we need to go to the courts."