A local bar owner is claiming a customer scammed his son out of $30,000 by promising to double that amount by staging a Martin Lawrence concert.
“I want everyone to know what a scam artist the guy is,” John Labrano, owner of the bar Red Barn of Palm Desert, told KESQ’s Joe Galli.
Labrano claims that one of his bar patrons, Ron Edwards, came to home with a proposition: put up $30k for Martin Lawrence and double your money. The deal seemed too good to pass up, so Lobrano drew up a contract and forked over the dough. But, he quickly realized that he was being duped.
“Within a matter of 3 or 4 days I felt that we were being conned because I only asked him for two things, that was the wire transfer to Martin Lawrence’s camp, attorney, agent, or manager, and a signed contract by Martin Lawrence’s, attorney, agent or manager, and he could never produce that,” Labrano said to Galli.
And this is where, as KESQ reports, the story takes a sad, unexpected, and truly awful turn:
The $30,000 didn’t come from John Labrano, but from his son and bartender at the Red Barn, Steven Labrano. The cash came from a savings account used to take care of Steven’s son, 19-month-old Parker Dau, who was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome which is a condition that affects the growth of bones and other tissues of the face.
“He made it seem like Martin Lawrence was going to Agua Caliente and we are going to get our money on a certain day, so it looked like a good investment, and it turned out the guy is a scammer,” said Steven Labrano.
(Seriously, I am going to take a moment to walk away from the computer and take a deep breath here, or I might just scream for a couple of minutes…
…ok, I needed that, thank you for your patience and sorry to all my neighbors for the screaming.)
The Labranos have since posted about the alleged scam on Facebook and they say “multiple business owners” have contacted them claiming they also handed over cash for a Martin Lawrence concert – with KESQ putting the total amount at a staggering $175,000. The riverside County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the case.
A quick check to the internet has one website saying that Martin Lawrence can be booked for “under $150,000”, another saying “75,000 to 149,000, and yet another offering no price at all. (note: I have not checked to see if these sites are legit, please do not give them any money to try to book Martin Lawrence unless you have fully checked them out first. Thanks!)
KESQ reached out to Ron Edwards by phone and he told them that his lawyer would be in contact. As of last night, no lawyer had contacted KESQ.