Cops: Cancer Charity Scammer Also Trolled Refugees
Apparently pocketing nearly $2 million for a fake breast cancer charity wasn’t enough—now a Colorado man is accused of stealing $1 million worth of mattresses meant for refugees.
A Colorado man fined $4 million for running sham breast cancer charities is facing another bust. This time, the alleged party boy is accused of stealing more than $1 million worth of donated mattresses intended for refugees.
Adam Shryock, founder of the now-defunct national charity chain Boobies Rock!, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charitable fraud, theft of $1 million or more, and conspiracy to commit theft of $1 million or more.
In April, Adams County prosecutors initially filed charges against the 36-year-old Shryock in the mattresses case, not long after a Denver judge ordered him to return $1.89 million in revenues and pay $4 million in civil penalties stemming from the cancer charity sham.
Genevieve Cruz, 58, a roommate in Shryock’s $2.59-million rental mansion, is also charged in the alleged black market bedding sham. Last month, she pleaded not guilty to one count of theft of $1 million or more and charitable fraud.
Cruz and Shryock didn’t return messages left by The Daily Beast. Each has blamed the other for the philanthropic scam, police reports show.
But Shryock’s attorney, Timur Kishinevsky, cautioned people not to jump to conclusions about his client’s checkered past.
“Mr. Shryock is a very savvy businessman,” the legal eagle told The Daily Beast. “He’s full of very good ideas. His entrepreneurial spirit is very alive… I don’t see him as a devious, backhanded individual who tries to take advantage of charities.”
Kishinevsky said the media falsely depicted the Kansas-born Shryock as having a “lavish” and “playboy lifestyle” but that “he comes from very humble roots.”
“I don’t believe he’s the monster or the sociopath he’s portrayed to be,” Kishinevsky added.
Shryock first made headlines in 2012, when former Boobies Rock! employees in Chicago and Phoenix said he instructed them to present the for-profit company as a charitable enterprise.
In social media photos, Shryock presents himself as a suave Rockies ladies man with fancy digs. His Facebook page is rife with photos of his swanky four-bedroom, six-bathroom home in Castle Rock, Colorado. In one photo, he’s posing in front of a silver BMW. In a collection of others, he’s cozying up to women at bars.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always followed my own path,” he wrote in July 2013. “Remember, if you desire to achieve big things, there will always be ‘little’ people in your way, people who criticize you simply because they do not have the guts to chase their own dreams.”
Shryock hired promotional models to go to local bars and sell T-shirts, koozies, and bracelets emblazoned with chintzy slogans such as “I Heart Motorboarding” and “Boobies Rock.” He instructed the models to tell customers that profits would go to breast cancer charities. As far as the women knew, donations were being made.
Often people made donations without receiving any merchandise.
Shryock testified that during football season, his enterprises in 30 to 35 cities made $30,000 per week. In the offseason, he raked in from $15,000 to $20,000 a week, court records show.
During the 21-month period Shryock operated Boobies Rock! from Colorado, his company’s revenues would have been $1.89 million, the Colorado attorney general claimed in court documents.
In Chicago, models sauntered around pubs reading from scripts, including this one detailed in court papers: “Hey, guys! How are you all doing tonight? I’m not sure you have seen the Boobies Rock! girls here…”
They added, “Every single dollar helps in this fight against breast cancer, so even a $5 wristband makes a difference in help [sic] us reaching that goal! It all adds up and can affect a women’s [sic] life battling this disease right now!”
According to the attorney general, Boobies Rock! told consumers it planned to donate to various national nonprofits “with an annual goal of $100,000.” Instead, from September 2010 to March 2012, Shryock’s group donated just $4,350 to charities.
Even the T-shirt- and bikini-clad models were hoodwinked by the over-the-top charade.
“I feel terrible. I’m embarrassed. I was misled. I misled other people. [Business owners] let me into their bars to mislead their patrons,” one former employee told the Arizona Republic in 2012. “It makes me sick that I raised money for Boobies Rock!”
With his company under fire, Shryock defended it to a local TV station, saying, “You are giving to a company that is an advocate of breast cancer awareness, but it is a for-profit business.”
After the negative press coverage, Shryock formed a new company, Say No 2 Cancer, as a nonprofit corporation in February 2013, court records reveal. Still, it operated under the same structure as Boobies Rock!
Just as the new company launched, Shryock used the Boobies Rock! bank account to pay for personal expenses, including a $18,500 BMW. The wannabe entrepreneur also used the funds to subscribe to an online dating service and pay his bar and cleaning service bills, the attorney general said.
One former SN2C model told investigators that she was expected to earn $1,000 in two hours. She met those goals after she “would speak to people and hear their heartfelt stories.” They would hand her money without taking merch, she said.
In June 2013, the Colorado attorney general filed a lawsuit against Shryock and his businesses, accusing him of misleading donors and committing charitable fraud to bankroll his cushy lifestyle.
Not even a temporary restraining order could stop Shryock’s employees from working the crowds. Two months later, the ta-tas tycoon ordered his models to work through a new venture called I Heart This Bar, which purported to raise money for a “scholarship.”
Shryock spent 14 days in jail in January 2014 for violating the order and asset freeze. He was found in contempt of court again a year later and sentenced to six months behind bars, The Denver Channel reported.
During his stint in jail this year, authorities caught on to his latest alleged scam. Cops accuse him of skimming from a refugee charity with the help of his former roommate, Genevieve Cruz, an ESL teacher, according to her Facebook page.
In April 2015, Aurora cops arrested the duo on charges of selling off Serta bedding sets that a local Serta plant donated to a Denver nonprofit, Ecumenical Refugee and Immigration Services Inc.
As Ecumenical’s donation coordinator, Cruz accepted “as is” Serta mattresses returned via the company’s warranty program since March 2014—a month before she moved into Shryock’s residence. The bedding, valued at $1,000 per unit, was supposed to go directly to refugees when the nonprofit placed them in Denver-area housing, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Cops learned of Cruz and Shryock’s alleged scheme after a Kansas mattress shop affiliated with Serta noticed people selling mattresses across the street out of a rental truck. The bedding was advertised as up to 60 percent off retail price.
When a Kansas employee saw that the tags on the mattresses came from Serta’s plant in Aurora, Colorado, he tipped off the manager there. The plant manager suspected the bedding sets were the ones donated to Ecumenical and told cops he had confronted Cruz previously over suspicions the donated mattresses were being hawked on the street.
At the time, she assured him they weren’t. But according to witnesses, Cruz stored the plant’s donor mattresses inside a storage unit registered first to her, then to Shryock. She was the only person allowed to sign for the items at delivery.
Cruz later told police she transferred the storage unit to her roomie because she “didn’t want her name on it anymore,” according to an affidavit.
Former employees of the allegedly fraudulent business told investigators that Shryock hired them to go on “sales trips” with the mattresses across state lines and to set up online ads for sales at the local storage facility.
An Aurora detective estimated that of the 1,608 mattresses Serta donated to Ecumenical, 500 went to refugee housing. About 164 mattresses remained in Ecumenical’s storage, while Cruz and Shryock sold 944 units and had 119 inside their private storage.
The mattresses sold and stored by the alleged con artists were worth an estimated $1.063 million, police said in an affidavit.
When questioned by an investigator, Cruz claimed Shryock was a “trusted volunteer of Ecumenical who had helped the organization in the past.” She couldn’t provide paperwork showing his volunteer work, however.
“She admitted that this was probably a very bad business decision, to entrust all of the donated Serta mattresses worth more than $100,000 to an individual not even associated with the organization,” an officer said in Cruz’s arrest warrant.
“I have never sold a mattress to anyone,” she insisted.
Meanwhile, Shryock, who was interviewed from jail, told an investigator that Cruz approached him with the mattress-selling proposal shortly after she moved in. Cruz allegedly assured Shryock she was authorized the sell the mattresses because her nonprofit had a “surplus” and wanted to get rid of them.
The grandma said they’d split the profits 50-50, with her part going to the nonprofit. He said he ran the business with Cruz for six months, despite suspecting that she kept the donated bedding revenues for herself.
Shryock’s interview was at odds with his previous claims of altruism.
“I asked Adam if he ever did ‘volunteer’ work for the charity and he said that he never did volunteer work for Ecumenical, that he hates mattresses, and he told me bluntly that he is not a charitable person,” the detective said in an affidavit.
An Ecumenical board member told authorities Cruz contacted him after police began sniffing around her scheme. In a frantic phone call, she tried to blame the nonprofit’s director, saying she gave him cash for the mattress sales that was unaccounted for. (The director told investigators he had nothing to do with Cruz’s side job.)
Cruz also allegedly sent the board member text messages with photos of a rental truck and mattresses being sold, according to the affidavit. Another photo showed cash spread out on a bed. Cruz’s caption allegedly read, “First time Adam gave me money…”