Family members of Steven Utash, the Clinton Township tree trimmer who was nearly beaten to death in an April 2 mob attack, hope media coverage about Utash’s son’s actions at a Detroit strip club won’t affect fund-raising efforts.
Joseph Utash, who is unemployed, said he was robbed by a woman he paid to give him a lap dance at a Detroit strip club, where he had gone “to blow off steam” after attending a fundraiser for his father in Clinton Township Saturday, WJBK-Channel 2 reports.
The younger Utash reportedly was drunk when he arrived at the Coliseum on Eight Mile strip club, identified himself as Steven Utash’s son, and said he had just come from a fundraiser and had money in his pocket.
Joseph Utash claimed in a police report that he had $1,500, spent $275 on lap dances and asked the dancer to hold the rest of the cash – money he claims she stole. He later told the television station that he had exaggerated the amount of money he had and that he only lost about $400.
After a bouncer said no money turned up in the dancer’s locker when he searched it, Joseph Utash allegedly threatened to blow up the club, according to the report.
On the Go Fund Me site set up to raise money to offset Utash’s medical bills, Joseph Utash’s sister, Mandi Marie Emerick, took issue with the WJBK report and vehemently denied that he used donated money to pay for lap dances at the strip club.
“My brother has no access to any of the fundraising money,” she wrote.
Joseph Utash was only at the fundraiser at Winners Bar & Grill in Clinton Township for about an hour between 4-5 p.m. on Saturday, she said, and that was before any money was collected. She said her brother cashed his unemployment check to pay for the dances.
“I'm not saying it's right that he spent his unemployment check there or that he was there to begin with, but (for the television station) to make these kind of accusations on my brother and bashing my family name with his poor choices is completely unfair.”
She said that only she and the family lawyer have access to the donated proceeds, and checks are made out in Steven Utash’s name or the trust fund that has been established.
“Every cent is protected and none of any type of donation has gone anywhere but the bank,” she wrote. “... I hope people believe me when I say that it was not fundraiser money and I hope this doesn't change how people feel about my dad's recovery. We love our father and wouldn't ever steal a dime from him.”
Steven Utash is still recovering from the injuries he received April 2 when he stopped to assist a boy he had accidentally hit with his pickup on Detroit's east side. He was expected to be transferred Tuesday to a rehabilitation facility specializing in neurological injuries and brain trauma.
The Go Fund Me site had raised $185,726 by Tuesday evening. Brian Strom, a donor who had previously given $100 to assist the family, said he gave another $10 as a protest against the news story.