The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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June 24, 2009

State police probe arena

Allegations by two fight promoters have launched an investigation into General Manager James Vautar of the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

“There are no charges against Jimmy,” War Memorial Authority Chairman Jack Steeves said.

“There are only allegations.”

Promoters for the Fists of Thunder II boxing event held May 2 and the Iron Will Fighting Championship mixed-martial arts fight held May 16 allege that they were cheated out of their shares of the proceeds, Steeves said.

“Two promoters were very upset,” Steeves said. “They said they didn’t get the right amount of money from the show they put on.”

State police and city detectives spent much of Wednesday at the War Memorial collecting documents and other evidence.

Authorities were tight-lipped on the investigation. City police referred questions to state police, but state troopers on the scene would not say what evidence was being collected.

District Attorney Patrick Kiniry declined to comment.

Boxer Andres Taylor of Johnstown headlined Fists of Thunder’s eight-bout card. He confirmed that family members acting as his promoters approached police after the event.

“I didn’t talk to the police yet,” Taylor said late Wednesday. “There are issues there, but I can’t elaborate on that until I talk to the police.”

Iron Will Fighting co-owners and brothers Darcy and David Ragala said they also contacted police after the 11-bout cage fight.

“I don’t really know a whole lot,” Darcy Ragala said. “But I’m confident the state police are going to get to the bottom of it.”

“We turned our records over to the state police,” David Ragala said. “They can compare our records to their records.”

Vautar downplayed the allegations.

“We had a disgruntled promotor make some accusations,” Vautar said. “That’s about all I can say.”

State police came to the War Memorial Wednesday and got the files involved, he said, adding that he was not shown a search warrant.

“All the records are subject to public inspection,” Vautar said. “We are a public entity.”

Vautar fully cooperated with police, said his attorney, Arthur T. McQuillan, declining further comment.

When they accepted their payments, both promoters signed forms verifying they were satisfied with the amounts in terms with their contracts, Steeves said.

“The main thing is: Why did these guys sign off on the satisfaction forms when they got paid?” Steeves said.

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