By Dorothy Tucker and Carol Thompson
CHICAGO (CBS) – Timothy Donovan lost his job and his marriage.
“So, mentally I really wasn’t everything there,” he said.
Donovan spent hours at the gym in 2011 working out all that stress. That gym was XSport Fitness in Libertyville. There Donovan met Rick Dugo in the fall of 2012.
“I mean, he’s always been the life of the party. You know, loud but cheerful, ”Donovan recalled.
Dugo seemed to have all the catch of a successful businessman: the fancy cars, expensive speedboats and big homes.
“So that attracted people. You know, I want to meet this guy, ”said Donovan.
Donovan knew Dug very well – perhaps too well.
“I trusted him where I thought he was a close friend and would be a business partner,” Donovan said.
Donovan told the CBS 2 Investigators that between 2013 and 2015 he handed out cash to Dugo as if it were candy. Turning thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars at a time to invest in the sweet money ventures.
Donovan showed CBS 2 his bank statements noting several major withdrawals – the name of Rick Dugo is even mentioned. Many of those withdrawals were in the range of $ 8,000 to $ 49,000.
One of the largest investments involved owning part of an existing Mundelein car wash and building another car wash inside a Chicago skyscraper. That’s the one that excited Donovan the most. It would be built at Trump Tower.
“Here it is,” said Donovan. “Nothing out there like that.”
The car wash investments added up to $ 191,500 remember Donovan.
“You get to a point where you’re trying to make it work, no matter what,” Donovan said. “You almost believe yourself that everything is in order.”
Donovan finally realized that all was not well when he went to the Trump Tower parking garage and discovered that there was no car wash. All the money he handed over to Dugo went down the drain.
“I can’t even describe the feeling,” Donovan said. “It’s like the whole bottom is falling out.”
That’s not all. There were more dubious deals in which he invested. Donovan noted them all down and described each one. There was the television in sports bars fraud, the Mercedes fraud, the speedboat engine fraud, and the insurance glass fraud – among others.
To pay for all this, Donovan raided his 401K and emptied his children’s college.
He says in total that he lost $ 769,700. Having lost almost everything in Illinois, Donovan packed up and moved to North Carolina.
The Investigation Begins
North Carolina is where Timothy Donovan was finally contacted by Illinois authorities who by 2018 had begun investigating Rick Dugo.
Finally, in March 2021, Dugo was charged by Lake County prosecutors with “theft” and “conspiracy” to defraud Donovan and two others of more than $ 800,000.
Earlier this year, when the charge came down, Dugo lived a large $ 650,000, four-bedroom home in Lake Forest. The home was rented by homeowner and former Chicago Bears head coach Dick Jauron.
The CBS 2 Investigators recently spoke with Jauron, who had no idea that Rick Dugo lived there. He told us that a woman’s name is on the rent. She does not appear to be related to Dugo. Jauron said the rent was never paid and says he stiffened for $ 28,000.
CBS 2 also discovered that Dugo has a history of legal issues.
He was sentenced to 5 years probation in a 2007 felony burglary case in Ohio. Dugo filed a guilty plea in that case, which involved stolen boat engines.
Since 2000, there have been 11 civil lawsuits filed against Rick Dugo. These cases involve evictions, fraud and breach of contract. Four of those lawsuits ended with trials against Dugo. He was ordered to repay a total of just over $ 350,000. Many of the plaintiffs we spoke to say they haven’t seen their money yet.
More Plaintiffs Ahead
David Andreiw was just 21 years old when he befriended Rick Dugo. Looking back now, he said, “I wish I had never met him.”
Back in 2003, Andreiw worked as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness in Glendale Heights. There he literally met Rick Dugo for the first time.
“I literally bounced off him … fell on my ass at the door,” he recalled.
Over the next two weeks, their friendship grew. Andreiw said he looked up to Dugo because “he had a lot of nice things. Nice clothes… cars he drove. The way he talked he has all this money.”
Dugo’s proposal to Andreiw may sound familiar as well. There was another car wash deal that salivated Andrei.
Later, Andreiw told CBS 2, Dugo took him to a building next to a tire and wheel shop in Chicago off Irving Park Road.
“There were people there who were lawyers and people there who were from the city talking about zoning,” Andreiw said. “At that time, would you ask someone,‘ Can I see your badge? Can I see that you really work for the city? Can I see that you are really a lawyer? ‘”
Andreiw is adamant the people he met were Dugo’s friends pretending to be characters.
“He literally had others portray others who were fake,” Andreiw said. “In the end it’s all about getting money.”
Andreiw said Dugo’s car wash investment process went like this: money would be needed for the monthly rent and equipment to run the business. “He would tell me it’s like $ 50,000, $ 60,000, $ 70,000 and we’d get started but I’d earn $ 15,000, $ 20,000 a month. I was excited. I really was. ”
Andreiw said he deleted his bank account and maximized his credit cards, investing $ 76,000 himself. Then Andrew did something he lived to regret.
“I left this devil in my family,” he said. He took Dugon home to suburban Wood Dale where several relatives got to know Dugon. “I feel terrible.”
Almost everyone, says Andrejw, was deceived. He cheated on the names of 20 people including his closest family and friends and their family and friends. Overall, Andreiw says they lost $ 80,000 to $ 90.00 in cash. Add in his personal investment and “It totaled close to $ 150,000,” he said.
One family member, Andreiw said, was cheated out of even more money – hundreds of thousands of dollars – by putting an expensive truck and boat in his name for Dugo until Dugo bought them back. He said the total for Andreiw and his family had risen to nearly half a million dollars.
Andreiw says he worked 12-hour days for two years to repay everyone the cash they had invested in the car wash and lost.
“I took big, big, big steps back,” Andreiw said through tears. “I learned a valuable lesson that maybe it’s a blessing that I learned them at that age.”
“It took years to recover financially. I had to go bankrupt, to cover my losses, my credit cards,” Andreiw continued. “I’d like to go back in time and see him and run in the other direction.”
Decades is Deception
So, who is this accused cheater? Rick Dugo grew up on the North Side and attended Gordon Tech High School in the early ’80s. Then he was Rick Schulte. He legally changed his family name to Dugo in 2005.
The CBS 2 Investigators spoke with a former girlfriend of the 80s who wanted to talk without revealing her face or name.
“I think I was 16 when I met him,” she said. “He was handsome.”
She browsed through several photos of those days that she has kept all these years. She may have been Dugo’s first victim.
“I was looking to buy a car,” she said. So, she gave him $ 600. She says that with that money he promised that he would get her the car. “And that was the last I ever saw of it.”
The girlfriend never filed a police report against Dugo. Few people did.
“Part of that could be embarrassment,” said Kent College of Law Professor Harold Krent.
That reluctance to complain may be one reason Dugo was never stopped. Another reason, Krent says, falls on police.
David Andreiw said he went to the FBI to file a lawsuit against Dugo nearly 20 years ago. But he said, “For them to investigate, I had to have an actual loss of $ 250,000 – and because I didn’t have that, nothing happened.”
Nothing happened until 2018, when Dugo finally paid attention to the Lake County authorities.
Professor Krent offered an explanation of why Lake County prosecutors prosecuted Dugon, when others allegedly did not.
“It may be that they saw a repetition of behavior and they wanted to stop it to prevent other victims from falling into the charm of this individual,” he said.
Stopping Dugon is what the former girlfriend, David Andreiw, and Timothy Donovan all want.
“He is a complete fake. He is a fake. He is a scammer, ”said Donovan. “He’s a monster, he really is.”
Donovan would like to see Dugon behind bars for a long time.
CBS 2 investigator Dorothy Tucker met Rick Dugo this summer outside of Vernon Hills town hall. He was about to get into a big Ford van. She asked him about the criminal charges and the allegations others make about further frauds.
Dugo said, “It’s a lie, but that’s why I have lawyers.” He then went back to the front door, opened it, and stepped in, saying, “Thank you.”
He then closed the door.
Dugo has appeared in court with Zoom several times since the indictment in March. His lawyers are trying to get separate trials for each of the three victims. Additionally, prosecutors indicate that a further indictment involving a new victim could come soon.