WSVN — He told one group of people he was with Help Me Howard, raising money to bury his dead wife. He told another group he was raising money to bury his dead daughter, but he wasn’t telling the truth at all and what did he tell us when we caught him? Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Veronica Trollerud has a big heart.
Veronica Trollerud: “I wanted to help him and I wanted to believe him.”
Luis Cruz wants to help people.
Luis Cruz: “And I feel bad and I gave $100 to him.”
They both helped this fellow who showed no heart.
“Leave me the [expletive] alone.”
Let’s go back to Veronica.
Veronica Trollerud: “This is my practice. Welcome, this is Acupuncture Center of South Florida and I’m the acupuncturist here.”
The Coral Gables acupuncturist called us after a fellow came into her business with a horrible story.
Veronica Trollerud: “He told me he recently had lost his wife.”
The man told her he was working with Help Me Howard. That we were doing a story on the businesses that donated money to bury his late wife. He apparently told that story to a lot of people.
Veronica Trollerud: “Some of the checks were for $100, some were for $10. Some were for a couple of hundred dollars I think my assistant, I think saw one around the range of $600. There were quite a few donations.”
Veronica gave him a check for $50. Luis Cruz gave the man cash after he heard his tale of another death in his family.
Luis Cruz: “And he told me that his daughter had an accident right there on 36th Street Northwest and Le Jeune Road and she got hit by a car so they took her to the hospital.”
We heard from a few people in 2012 about the man claiming he was working with Help Me Howard to collect money. When Victoria called this year, she described the same person. One business owner even got this copy of the mans I.D. that said his name was Ronald Lamont Spease.
Tangela Bargmon: “Ronald Spease, yeah, he is my brother. He is not here right now.”
We wanted to stop the fraud. An address for him led to his sister Who was surprised Ronald was raising money to bury a dead wife.
Ambar Rodriguez: “”Is he married?”
Tangela Bargmon: “No.”
Ambar Rodriguez: “Has he ever been married?”
Tangela Bargmon: “No.”
As for the story, Ronald needed money to bury his dead daughter. He doesn’t have any children.
Tangela Bargmon: “Shame on him.”
Help Me Howard producer Ambar Rodriguez tracked down Ronald and convinced him to talk.
Ronald Spease: “I just want to clear the air, public apology to all of those who I have harmed and all of those who I have taken advantage of.”
Ronald is a convicted felon. He told us that makes it almost impossible to get a job.
So while watching Help Me Howard, he decided to use it and concoct stories to convince people to give him money.
Ronald Spease: “And if they wanted to tune in, they would catch the episode and me knowing a lot of people watch Help Me Howard, it enhanced my chances of getting something in return from them.”
Ronald now says in his mind it was a harmless way to make money.
Ronald Spease: “I tell you no lie, but it sure beats the hell out of robbing from people. This is how I came out with the idea. I felt that if I would do it that way, no harm no foul. That is how I was feeling.”
No harm Ronald believes. Howard begs to differ.
Howard Finkelstein: “It’s a felony to mislead or lie to raise money for a charity, another person or for a phony cause, and raising it to bury a wife or daughter who doesn’t exist is a crime.”
Ronald says he is now sorry he misled so many people.
Ronald Spease: “It’s not fair for me to do what I was doing to innocent nice people. I can’t get it out of my head because that is all they was, innocent, nice people I took advantage of it.”
A convincing argument. Veronica says that sounds familiar.
Veronica Trollerud: “I think he is a very good actor. He definitely played his role very well, he looked distraught.”
Veronica isn’t going to file charges against Ronald. He says that’s good. That he has cancer and he swears this sob story is the truth.
Ronald Spease: “If I wasn’t trying to be truthful, trying to make it right, I wouldn’t even put myself in the position to have this interview.”
Patrick Fraser: We get calls from businesses who say I can’t believe you are doing a story on us and never asked us for our side. We tell them someone lied to you, we aren’t doing the story. ‘Cause if we are, you will hear from Howard, our producer Ambar or me. That’s it. If it’s not one of us, it’s not Help Me Howard.
Someone pretending to help and instead hurting you? Ready to let the truth be known? We will be glad to help and that’s no lie.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com