Bob Bender, who served as coordinator of events at the Fox Theater in Bakersfield, California from January 2016 until early this year, has filed a “report of no distribution” in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Bender is accused of bilking the theater for more than $150,000 in event receipts, according to a report on Bakersfield.com.
According to Icon promoter Doug Castro and a news release from Icon sent to a Californian reporter in mid-July, it all started as Icon was gearing up for sold-out shows featuring comedian Jeff Dunham on May 11 and 12. The company “became aware one day before the first show that Fox Theater’s facility management, Bender Entertainment, and its owner/operators, Bob and Debbie Bender, had gone ‘missing-in-action’ along with the approximately $154,000 from ticket sales and could not be located to discuss the matter,” Icon said in its release.
Icon stepped up and paid Dunham rather than cancel the shows. An event featuring Kevin Smith was also affected by Bender’s malfeasance, according to the promoter.
A summary of assets and liabilities that Bender filed with his wife with the bankruptcy court acknowledged that the couple owe Icon Concerts $155,000 and the Fox Theater Foundation $43,000. An investigation by the Bakersfield Police failed to uncover any concrete evidence that could lead to criminal charges.
“Our detective wrote multiple search warrants and took multiple investigative steps,” said BPD spokesman Sgt. Ryan Kroeker. “We were ultimately unable to determine if Mr. Bender had ever received any of the funds.”
Defense attorney Kyle Humphrey downplayed the intent, remarking that some individuals with talent in many areas aren’t very good at business.
“If bankruptcy was a crime Donald Trump would not be our president,” Humphrey said. “This has been really hard on Bob and his wife,” he said. “There was never any intention for anyone to be harmed.”
The report of “no distribution” means that the estate is without funds to distribute to creditors.