Fundraiser for fallen firefighters canceled, TPD investigating

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - A fundraiser which claimed it would benefit the two fallen Toledo firefighters has been canceled.

Steven Machinski and Jamie Dickman died while fighting a fire in north Toledo on January 26.

The event was to be held this Saturday at the International Boxing Club in Toledo. Just days beforehand, the organizer decided to cancel the event.

Close to 100 arts and craft vendors paid money to set up a booth at the event. Business owners also donated items and money.

People started asking questions when the event organizer, Chris Nastachowsk set up a bank account and non-profit organization under the name "Fallen Firefighter Fund."

"It raised a few flags because there are already funds and why wouldn't organizers just piggy back on one of the existing funds?" said Mollie Morris of the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB is investigating, along with the Ohio Attorney General's office and Toledo Police.

"I have already talked to prosecutors. I talk to Julia Bates today. She is aware of the situation and we're going to make sure that if there is any funny business that went along with this, people will be prosecuted," said Toledo Police Sergeant Joe Heffernan.

Toledo Fire and Rescue says it does not endorse specific events because it simply does not have time to vet them.

"Our stance has always been, before you donate money or goods, check into that group, that organization. Make as best that you can, to vet them in some way, that they are honorable in their intentions," said Toledo Fire and Rescue Lieutenant Matthew Hertzfeld.

Nastachowsk say he and his wife are into arts and crafts and wanted to raise money the only way they knew how. He says all the vendors will receive refunds via certified mail.  Organizers also say they are returning donated items and gift cards to businesses.

The best way to donate to the families of the fallen firefighters is through Toledo Fire and Rescue's website, or at the police or fire credit unions.

Click here for more on Toledo's fallen heroes, including other ways to help.

Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.