Angry Bears Expose ‘Beach Bear Weekend’ Fraud

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Latest Post from Facebook Site Says Organizer is Canceling Events 

 

In January, SFGN revealed that the organizer of this year’s Beach Bear Weekend, Craig Jungwirth, was the target of civil restraining orders by circuit courts in three states, had been evicted by his landlord in Wilton Manors, and arrested for stalking charges in Broward County.

But Jungwirth then told SFGN that he had dropped out of the group, and had “nothing to do with it anymore.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the original article appeared raising issues over the group’s actions, Jungwirth has orchestrated an Internet selling campaign furiously promoting the weekend. But some say fraudulently would be more like it.

“What Jungwirth is doing,” local resident Jeff Black said last week, in an email sent to media and local officials, “is perpetrating a fraud and theft on unsuspecting people thinking they are going to come to Fort Lauderdale for a great weekend…but the truth is he is tainting our community, acting alone, not part of an organization, and doing it with bullying and threats.”

Black is the owner of 12 Design, a local graphic design, and screen-printing and embroidery company. His concerns were echoed by a host of local businessmen who have now recanted or redacted any proposed partnerships with Jungwirth and the ‘Beach Bear Weekend.’

“ I am not looking for any credit. All I have done is gather source material and post it for everyone to read, asking the community to be aware of it.” Black downplays his role, but as a fundraiser for many organizations, who served on the Board of Directors for Atlanta Gay Pride for ten years, he knows of what he speaks.

Black’s email has inspired others to pay attention. Queerty.com ran an online post declaring that Jungwirth was “unhinged,” quoting the SFGN expose from last January. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau cancelled a scheduled meeting with the promoter, and has since pulled the listing of Beach Bear Weekend from its website. Last week, the Florida Agenda ran an editorial column about the controversy.

The cumulative effort of concerned community leaders has revealed that Jungwirth’s marketing plan was less than credible. He was selling online room accommodations and hotel packages without entering into partnerships with the hotels, restaurants, and bars he purportedly was partnering with.

Not a single establishment confirmed contracts were in place. In fact, a few, like the Village Pub and Hunter’s, have gone online and disavowed them.

“If someone, anyone, is fraudulently inducing another party to send money via the Internet for products and services that do not exist, that person can rightfully be charged with federal crimes for wire money fraud,” remarked Russell J. Williams, a noted Broward County criminal defense attorney.

The Beach Bear website controlled by Jungwirth is even reportedly trying to sell private beach chairs and umbrella reserves. However, the site is a public beach with a licensed vendor authorized to rent these amenities, and they are neither allowed to nor authorized to enter into contracts for such sales. 

What’s worse, Black has argued on his Internet post, Jungwirth has now compounded the fraud by harassing and intimidating those persons who have attempted to acquire refunds, “serving them with fictitious trespass notices” and “banning them from the venue grounds.” Black listed over a dozen people so targeted in his open letter.

Despite the allegations, there is no police investigation. When Captain William Schultz, the former public information officer of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department was contacted, he only knew that Jungwirth asked to reserve beach properties for the Bear Events in May. 

“Jungwirth was told no, that wasn’t happening; that the beach was reserved for the Air and Sea Show that weekend.” It did not stop him from advertising the same on his website, though.

Captain Schultz added that at this point if people wanted to file individual complaints against Jungwirth they would have to call the city’s non-emergency number at 954-828-5700. Any complaints would then be assigned to detectives.

“On a local and personal level, this individual [Jungwirth] is a threat… at this point it’s become too large an impact on our community to allow this one person to keep this up unchallenged,” Black said.

No one is more frustrated with the turn of events for Beach Bear Weekend, than Bob Young, who ran it for the past few years until he sold it to Jungwirth for $100. Young has even sent out Facebook posts apologizing for selling the event.

“Jungwirth has no authority to ban people from events. I wish I could get it back,” Young said. When Young sold the site to Jungwirth earlier this year, in a simple one page agreement, it was only for a “hundred bucks, but I never even got that money. He never paid.”

Young continued, “it is awful what Jungwirth has done. He is hurting our community. Not only has he ruined this event for 2016, he harasses and demeans the businesses and bars that attempted in good faith to work with him.” 

One of the early "trespasses" was issued against Christian Albert Lewelsheim. Christian came to the aid of the Bear promoters last year and donated a large sum of money to help them underwrite their shortfall in funds. He was credited with pretty much paying for the one anchor event, the main pool party.

“This year, however, it seems Jungwirth reached out to Christian and demanded he continue his financial support of the event and when Christian declined, Jungwirth started the "trespass" notices and slanderous attacks online,” Black said.

Apparently, the harassment on Facebook may come under many names. Angry Bears have stated on Facebook that Jungwirth is using many aliases and phoney profiles.

Bear members angry over Jungwirth’s actions even started a separate Facebook site entitled ‘Boycott Beach Bear Weekend,’ and their posts on Facebook have been going viral. When Peter Bisulto learned of what was going on, he said he had to block the promoter Jungwirth from all of his social media.

”I have no idea who he is and I’ve never met him. But whenever there is another Bear event going on, he spreads rumors that our event the other event is cancelled,” Bisulto said. “The list of [Jungwirth’s] bullshit goes on and on. This is not what being a Bear is all about.”

Bisulto ended his own post declaring, “Nobody should support beach bear weekend. NOBODY.” Bisulto was not alone.

Last week, Beach Bear’s website also announced that it has banned the popular group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. No one can say why, but Queerty.com’s editor posted a note stating that Jungwirth’s actions are “giving them nausea.” Queerty concluded its story with the admonition that Jungwirth’s acts of “amplified grotesqueness cannot stand.” 

The popular bar, Hunter’s in Wilton Manors, has also announced to the LGBT community that they have pulled out of sponsoring any events for the “reasons Peter Bisulto noted.” But that has not stopped Jungwirth from falsely advertising Hunter’s continued sponsorship on Internet feeds.

“And now he is harassing us,” said Hunter’s co-owner Patrick Volkert. “But everyone who has been dealing with Jungwirth is pulling out, or removed themselves, of any deals with him.”

Despite these revelations, Jungwirth’s Beach Bear website continues to promote partnerships with a variety of bars and hotels, including the Ritz Carlton, the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, the Village Pub, Casablanca, the Burlock Coast, and the Snooze Hotel.

However, the Village Pub also, on its Facebook page, has disavowed the event, and any alleged partnership with Jungwirth.

“Just to be clear, while we continue to support the Bear community, we have withdrawn our support from this year’s event. Despite this, Mr. Jungwirth has refused to remove our name from his website,” their post reads.

The closing parties for the weekend also promote complete nudity at South Beach locations “to be determined” and “weekend passes to the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea show,” which, by the way, are free and open to the public. Further, Jungwirth’s attempts to secure private spaces for Bear weekend were rebuffed by city of Fort Lauderdale officials. 

“It is all false advertising,” Black said. “It’s up to the responsible people in our community to put an end to it.” 

Black’s Facebook post also revealed that Jungwirth is even advertising online that the City of Fort Lauderdale has issued a proclamation ceremoniously backing the event. But Black quickly disposed of that falsehood by posting online all the minutes of the city’s conference and regular commission meetings for the last few months. No such proclamation was ever placed on the agenda or issued.

The South Florida Gay News first uncovered this story in January when Jungwirth requested funds from the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. Researching his background, SFGN uncovered a checkered past that included numerous criminal prosecutions and civil restraining orders.

On January 29, we ran a story revealing Jungwirth was the target of a permanent injunction and restraining order entered against him by a former employer, for conduct alleged to have been "threatening, erratic and violent,” according to court filings. He reportedly threatened a colleague with a “power tool,” returning to her place of business after he had been discharged and banned from the facility. 

Three years later, after the restraining order had expired, one of the victims, a woman, Kristina H., encountered Jungwirth at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. In court documents, she alleged that Jungwirth stalked her “continuously for four days.” He was eventually charged again, with new criminal stalking charges. A year later, they were dismissed. But he ran into more trouble again.

SFGN also discovered that circuit courts from three different states (Florida, Ohio and Massachusetts) have entered restraining orders against Jungwirth for threatening behavior. They include representations that Jungwirth would “bankrupt” his ex-employers, and they would soon be facing “heart attacks.” 

Additionally, at least four former colleagues from his job in Massachusetts, and his former lover, had successfully filed individual petitions for restraining orders against Jungwirth, expressing fear for their personal safety.

Those were not the only legal issues that Jungwirth has faced. Last year, Jungwirth, 48, was charged with a ‘Dine and Dash’ from the Courtyard Café at 2211 Wilton Drive in the Manors. Picked up on a $500 bond earlier this year for ‘defrauding an innkeeper,’ he pled out last month, on February 3, and was allowed to enter into a court diversion program.

While SFGN previously reported that Jungwirth had been evicted in 2014 from a Wilton Manors apartment on Northeast 23rd street for non-payment of rent, court records now reveal a second, newer eviction proceeding. Less than two weeks ago, James Ostryniec, sued Jungwirth for eviction, alleging he has defaulted on a $1,100 payment for his Alhambra Street rental for a beachside apartment in Fort Lauderdale.

In the past, the group has petitioned the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB for financial support. Under its present leadership however, CVB liaison Richard Gray will not even meet with them.

Shane Stiel, a popular DJ in the Bear community seemed to capture and summarize everyone’s feelings in this March 11, 2016 post:

“As someone in this industry and one who was asked to play last year, I'm disappointed to hear the direction this new organizer has chosen to take. Disrespecting those within your own community is never right and is frowned upon greatly. It just makes it even more justified to boycott an event. I will no longer consider playing this event and I will encourage all DJs to boycott this event. If you turn against your community, it will turn against you.”

Meanwhile, the BeachBearWeekend.com site is up and running online, selling weekend packages for the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort for a Queen Studio Package for $1,581.00. However, because the Fort Lauderdale Air Show is happening the same weekend, there are no rooms available at the Hilton. 

Attorney Russell Williams, interviewed by SFGN, said, “that if the behavior can be verified, it is clearly both civil and criminal fraud.”

Jungwirth did not respond to SFGN’s attempts to reach him. But the latest news off their website, posted Monday afternoon, is they are ‘canceling their events.’

“Whether Jungwirth goes forward or not, he has done irreparable damage and harm to the LGBT Bear community,” Young said.


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