FOLSOM (CBS13) — The promoter of a huge boat racing event in Folsom now faces charges of allegedly defrauding vendors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Out on bail and facing fraud charges, Bob Richards didn’t hide from our cameras. Instead, he was more than happy to talk.

Last summer he was front and center at Folsom Lake talking up what he billed as the biggest hydroplane race in five decades.

We asked him right off the bat, did he write bad checks?

“Yes I did,” he said.

It was a simple and refreshing answer—Richards flat-out admits he passed bad checks to vendors after that event Folsom’s Big Wake Weekend fell flat.

“Instead of doing 20,000 fans, we did 6,000,” he said. “We had a financial shortfall.”

Shortfall or not, Richards was arrested on Tuesday by Placer County Sheriff’s deputies, who say he defrauded people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One vendor alone, investigators say, is owed nearly $200,000 after Richards paid him with checks that bounced.

Richards says he takes full accountability for that, but he’s still defiant.

“You know what I should be charged with?” he said. “Being a dreamer and believing in something.”

Richards insists he’s working with vendors trying to pay them back, but says H-1 Unlimited, the hydroplane racing league, is owed $200,000 and won’t work with him.

While H-1 wouldn’t comment on the case, the leagues says it’s still interested in Folsom.

“Despite the low lake levels and drought problems we all face this year, H1 continues to work on a 2015 return,” the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Richards hopes to make up the money by organizing Big Wake Weekend 2014 in Lincoln.

“Absolutely, because I believe in it,” he said.

Richards says he still owes between $250,000 and $300,000 for an event that cost $1 million to put on. As for those vendors, deputies say whether they get paid will be worked out in court.


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