SALIX – A Patton man will appear in Cambria County court, accused of stealing $10,000 from a charity motorcycle event held in 2017 to benefit children with autism, authorities said.
The state police Organized Crime Task Force, in Ebensburg, charged Brian Lee Gates, 57, on Jan. 30, with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, unlawful lotteries and gambling devices.
Gates waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Thursday before District Judge Rick Varner, of Salix, sending to the case to county court.
According to a criminal complaint, Gates is founder of Bri’s Rock and Ride, a motorcycle event that raises money for charity.
Troopers said volunteers became suspious when at the time of the August 2017 ride, they were told the event would benefit “Autism Solutions,” but Gates would provide few details.
The event also included a basket raffle, 50/50 tickets and other small games of chance.
The investigation revealed that Cambria County has no record of Small Games of Chance license on file for Gates or Bri’s Rock and Ride.
Troopers also said according to the IRS, there is no tax-exempt nonprofit organization associated with Gates. The IRS had a file for the Brian Gates Foundation, but the foundation was not formed until after the criminal investigation started, the complaint said.
About 400 people participated in the 2017 charity ride that raised about $8,000. The money was to be donated to a charity supporting what was described on the event’s Facebook and website as “Autism Solutions,” the complaint said.
Volunteers continued to question Gates on how the money was spent. Gates had reportedly contacted three schools to receive donations but he instead offered them water filtration systems.
Staff at an autism school in East Freedom said Gates contacted them offering a water processor from Bri’s Water Warrior Watering System.
The name of the water processor was Kangen and Gates, a distributor for Kangen, the complaint said.
Troopers alleged that Gates used the money that was raised from the motorcycle event to buy Kangen Water Systems from his own company – Bri’s Water Warrior Watering System.
School officials declined the offer, telling Gates they had no need for the water filtration system.
Troopers said only one of the three schools accepted Kangen Water System that was valued at $2,500.
The investigation determined that Gates had “failed to donate the funds to charity, but rather used the funds for his own purposes and for his own personal gain.
Gates is free on bond.