A former employee for promoters of a series of concerts and events called Holiday Enchanted Village has filed a police complaint against the business.
Mauricio Rosas, who handled public relations for Bay Entertainment Group, said the concert organizers are engaged in fraud by selling tickets to an event that isn't going to take place.
The promoter vigorously denied this and said Rosas is trying to get back at him after being fired.
"It's been assigned to a criminal bureau detective," said Tampa Police Department spokesman Capt. Bob Guidara. "We are going to investigate this case."
Bay Entertainment is currently advertising a holiday festival of sorts Dec. 10 through Jan. 4 in the parking lot of the abandoned Tampa Bay Center. The planned event promises a Las Vegas-style ice-skating show, a European-style Cirque Act, a Broadway dance act and musical headliners that include Tony Bennett, Kenny G, Michelle Branch, Boys II Men, George Clinton and others.
The cost of admission is less than $20.
Bay Entertainment principal Alfredo Beronda said Friday that no fraud is taking place and that he is working 19-hour days to make sure the event comes off. He said he has been unable to meet contract deadlines with some performers, but has made deposits with others and is working to resolve any disputes.
Rosas claims he quit Monday, although he has a contract to provide public relations services, because he had not been paid for five weeks. Beronda claims Rosas is a disgruntled former employee whom he actually fired Monday for disclosing "intellectual property" and repeatedly demanding to be paid under the table.
Beronda claims Rosas, who is on disability, didn't want to have his income reported to the IRS and now is engaged in an extortion campaign because he refused to bow to his demands.
"I hope you look and see that Mauricio Rosas is a disgruntled former employee who is trying to blackmail our company for money," Beronda said. "This is the way Mauricio takes out his anger."
The St. Petersburg Times ran a story Thursday showing Beronda has a lengthy criminal record, that his past business ventures have faced bankruptcy, that he hasn't paid his rent, owes nearly $1,200 in unpaid parking tickets and spells his name in varying ways depending on the document.
On Friday, Beronda gave a tour of his Cass Street office, showing boxes containing what he said are some 350,000 tickets for the event, along with fliers. He showed copies of ticket orders using credit card numbers he said he hasn't processed until the event is a sure thing.
He had envelopes prepared in case he must refund the nearly 6,000 tickets already sold. He had documents that showed where he had corrected misspellings of his name. He showed damage to the mobile home that serves as his office to demonstrate why he hadn't paid rent. And he had a copy of what he said was a termination letter to Rosas.
Rosas called the claim against him bunk.
"There was nothing under the table," said Rosas. "The fact was that he had not paid me for five weeks."