ATLANTIC CITY — The group organizing the Atlantic City Christmas Parade has dismissed Amazing Ventnor President Michael Einwechter from the committee.
According to Nick Pittman, who is heading the parade committee, the organization decided to part ways with Einwechter as soon as they heard he'd been charged with theft of funds from a Puerto Rico hurricane relief fundraiser Amazing Ventnor held in October.
“We didn’t want any impressions of impropriety brought on us,” Pittman said Thursday.
Einwechter, 38, was charged this past week with theft of money and checks that were the proceeds of a Puerto Rico benefit concert held Oct. 15 at Ski Beach, Ventnor Police Chief Douglas Biagi said.
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Police seized his four-wheel-drive truck, which is painted to look like a yellow Tonka truck.
Einwechter reported the event garnered proceeds totaling $17,015, but Biagi said United for Puerto Rico received only about $1,550.
“The exact amount is still being filtered through,” Biagi said Friday afternoon.
The event included a silent auction, which generated cash donations.
“It’s always difficult when it’s a cash event,” he said.
The case was referred to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office for review. The county has 30 days to review the case before deciding whether it will issue a direct indictment or be heard by a grand jury, Biagi said.
“That’s when there will be a court date,” he said.
Pittman said the parade committee includes representatives of major sponsors, Bass Pro Shops and Tanger Outlets The Walk, who each contributed $4,000 toward the parade.
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The parade was previously done on a smaller scale at the outlet mall, but this year he approached the sponsors to do a bigger parade on the Boardwalk.
Einwechter served as a volunteer on the committee and secured about 15 of the 42 units marching in the parade, Pittman said.
“We knew he had a big following,” Pittman said. “We made the decision as a committee and we welcomed him as a stand-up person, but as soon as the news broke, we decided to part ways.”
Pittman said Einwechter asked to be in charge of the sponsorship funds, but the committee thought it would be best if the television news station Pittman works for was in charge of all the funds. Pittman is known as Nor'Easter Nick, a weather forecaster at SNJ Today.
Sponsorships will cover marketing the parade, marching bands, a DJ, event insurance and Facebook live broadcasting on SNJ Today, Pittman said.
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Since releasing Einwechter, only one volunteer group he obtained to march in the parade has dropped out, Pittman said.
“We need to find more volunteers to replace them,” Pittman said.
Pittman said he met with officials from the city and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in August and applied for a permit, but the permits are not issued until the day of the event.
The parade is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. It will start at Rhode Island Avenue and travel south to Albany Avenue. Santa will bring up the rear on the Bass Pro Shops' float, Pittman said.