The following is a summary of an unbelievable situation that we and all anglers who fished the Mike Tolbert Spade Foundation Redfish Tournament on May 18, 19, 2018 continue to deal with. You may have seen some things pop up briefly on social media then taken back down. The following account contains only facts, not opinions.
This tournament was organized on behalf of the Mike Tolbert Spade Foundation by the Southern Redfish Cup. The buy-in per-team was hefty…$750. But, the Guaranteed Payouts were really large, as shown below in advertisements for the event. With some trepidation, Ralph and I registered for the event. We hadn’t been fishing much at all, and the trips we did fish we hardly caught any redfish. But, we figured we had as good a chance as any, since we only fish artificial baits.
We submitted our registration, which was received by the Spade Foundation
The weather for the event was awful. It poured rain both tournament days, and we ground it out both days in full rain gear, along with the other 30 teams entered. Each day we felt lucky to enter our limit of three mid-slot fish. Turns out, due to the very difficult conditions, this was good enough for 4th place. $7,500 team payout. Pretty good, something to be proud of, considering the quality of the field of anglers we were competing against.
Both days at weigh in, many pictures were taken, including us with each days catch.
On the final weigh in, when we found out we were 4th place, no checks were distributed. Instead, we were told we needed to go to the Windjammer on IOP to receive our checks. There was a country concert as part of the event. Many of us were not planning to go to that optional event, but we hurried home, cleaned up and got back there. There was a big presentation of the winning teams. Ralph couldn’t attend, but I was called up for 4th place in front of the crowd, pictures taken, and no one was given a check.
We were told by Jeff of the Redfish Cup that we needed to fill out a tax form the following Monday and we would be paid by the Spade Foundation. OK, that was unexpected, but understandable – given the size of the payouts. Monday came and we promptly sent in our tax forms.
Meanwhile, the final results of the tournament were never published. Pics from the event were never published. Starting to get suspicious…
Weeks passed and no checks.
Ralph and at least one of the winners at last received checks via FedEx after continued pressure on the event coordinator. All of them bounced. I twice received a screen shot of FedEx tracking packages with promises my check was in the mail. The package was never dropped off to FedEx. It was never scanned into their system. Jessica Walsh, of Cornerstone Sports Marketing, has repeatably lied to me and all anglers with false promises of payments.
Ralph and the anglers who received bad checks have since been paid via wire transfer by Mike Tolbert, under threat of lawsuit due to the multiple counts of fraud that Jessica was facing. How is it that as a team we won $7,500 yet half has been paid and half has not?
The rest of us have not received one cent.
An example of the lies we are getting told
I have since signed a letter of engagement with an attorney to bring them to justice. We have not been told the truth even once throughout this whole ordeal.
Buyer beware. Do not participate in an event put on by the Mike Tolbert Spade Foundation!
Update: The situation was covered in the Post & Courier recently and a lawsuit has been filed with myself and 12 of the other anglers who were unpaid. We will see how this turns out.