Annapolis man accused in school assembly scheme involving Ravens gets charged

SUDLERSVILLE, Md. - Schools and PTA groups say he offered to hold anti-bullying assemblies featuring Ravens players.  Now the man who promised big names that never showed is facing criminal charges. 

There's a lot of open space between the hustle and bustle of Baltimore and the quiet country roads of Sudlersville in Queen Anne's County.  Nearly 70 miles from the city, this rural town doesn't entertain a lot of celebrity guests.  Annette DiMaggio, the President of the Sudlersville Elementary PTA, says, "We're just a small community and it was a big deal to have a Ravens player here."

That Ravens player, Lardarius Webb, was supposed to be at Sudlersville Elementary in early October to talk to kids as part of an anti-bullying program.  It was set up by Joseph Gill and his company, the Odyssey Group.  DiMaggio jumped at the chance to make it happen, "The week before we took our school T-shirt and we had it signed by all the children and the teachers in our school.  We were super excited, super excited."

But the thrill for the school's 410 children quickly turned to heartbreak when Gill called the day before the assembly, telling DiMaggio the star cornerback was out of town and couldn't make it.  She was suspicious and made a round of calls to other schools.  The results, she says, were disturbing, "They were telling the same story that all of a sudden he wasn't going to be there."

The following Monday, DiMaggio sent a letter home to parents, saying the assembly was a scam.  That operation was run by Gill, who the Ravens have said has no ties to their players.

More than two dozen schools and PTA groups from across Maryland have learned that the hard way, including Sudlersville Elementary and nearby Centreville Middle.  DiMaggio says, "It was devastating."

But Joseph Gill's game may finally have caught up with him in Queen Anne's County.  The sheriff's office is the first to file criminal charges against him.  An arrest warrant has been issued, charging him with theft and theft scheme.

The 62-year-old from Annapolis is now considered one of the county's most wanted and their officers want to see him behind bars.  Deputy Dale Patrick, the Public Information Officer for the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Department says, "You could say (he was) a bully.  It's a scam it sounds like to me.  He promised to deliver something and didn't and then kept the money."

DiMaggio says Gill kept $400 from the Sudlersville PTA, but they may have gotten off easy.  Calls by ABC2 to several districts uncovered upfront payments made by some groups for as much as $1500-$1900.  It's money that was lost to a man who claimed he could bring the shine of big city stars to this small town.  DiMaggio tells us, "He's scum.  For anybody to take little children, take advantage, scum probably isn't a strong enough word for him."

We left messages on Joseph Gill's phone and put a card in his mailbox but he didn't respond to our requests for comment.  Back in October, an attorney representing Gill sent a letter to the impacted schools, saying he felt he could offer the programs in good faith but that his relationship to agents for the players fell apart.  That attorney is no longer representing Gill and tells ABC2 he believes he is unrepresented at the moment.

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
Severna Park Middle School
Arundel Middle School
George Fox Middle School
Central Middle School
Richard Henry Lee Elementary School
Rippling Woods Elementary School
Riviera Beach Elementary School
Crofton Meadows Elementary School
Mayo Elementary School
Phoenix Annapolis
Arundel High School
Crofton Middle School
Severn Elementary School
Central Elementary School
Fort Smallwood Elementary School
Lindale Middle School
Bodkin Elementary School
$1,950
$600
$1,250
$750
$750
$750
$500
$500
$750
$500
$750
$500
$600
$1,250
$750
$750
$750
BALTIMORE COUNTY
School system says several PTA groups impacted although specific list was not available at press time  
CARROLL COUNTY  
School system says several PTA groups impacted although specific list was not available at press time  
HOWARD COUNTY
Bellows Spring Elementary (PTA):
Veterans Elementary (PTA):
Gilford Elementary:
Forest Ridge Elementary:
Thunder Hill Elementary (PTA):
$750
$1500
$750
$1200
$600
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY
Centreville Middle
Sudlersville Elementary
$400
$400
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