Ride for Dime President Steps Down After Allegations of Misconduct Appear Online

Ride for Dime President Rob Eichelberger announced on Monday evening that he’s stepping down from his position heading the nonprofit organization named for late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott and dedicated to raising money for other music-related charitable organizations.

“I, Rob Eichelberger, will be stepping down as President to make way for all the great things to come and to better support the memory of Dimebag Darrell Abbott,” he posted to Ride for Dime’s Facebook page. “I have enjoyed being a part of such a great man’s organization, and will continue to support in any way that I can.”

Rita Haney, whom many people know as “DimebagzHag,” is taking over as the chairman of the board for Ride for Dime. The move comes in the midst of a restructuring occurring at Ride for Dime, which many insiders claim has been in a downward spiral ever since Eichelberger took over as president in early 2009.

“When it comes to [Dimebag] Darrell, I can’t help but be a mamma bear,” Haney says. “One person doesn’t need control, and it takes several people to do it right.”

Eichelberger’s announcement comes after a swirl of controversy erupted online over the weekend, with a former best friend claiming Rob was not only stealing money from the charity to fund his rock star lifestyle but also something much worse.

Marchant, who’d been friends with Eichelberger for 10 years, told the Observer that he'd witnessed his former friend trading memorabilia donated to the charity for drugs, and multiple inside sources once associated with Ride for Dime charity have all spun similar stories about missing money. "Apparently the subject here was actually able to quit his job and upgrade a lot of his personal possessions and upgrade his lifestyle," wrote one former Ride for Dime chapter president. 

Marchant wrote his post after a loved one told him about the alleged sexual assault that, he says, they reported on February 26 to the Carrollton Police Department. A Carrollton police spokeswoman said the charge was without merit, however.

Eichelberger denies raping or even touching Marchant's loved one. “When he told me that, I went straight to the police station,” he says. “I’ve got an ongoing case opened about his harassment.”

He actually doesn't have an ongoing case opened about his harassment.

Jolene Devito, police media specialist for the Carrollton Police Department, said both parties filled charges against each other on the same day, and both cases were unfounded, she says. 

Eichelberger also denies stealing money from the charity or trading memorabilia for drugs. He claims he received a $100,000 inheritance from his father passing away, gave $5,000 of it to a few siblings and then used the rest of the money to purchase new cars, motorcycles, a swimming pool, etc. His ex wife, he says, was also earning a good living when they were married, although he did have to cash in her 401k to help fund his EZ Dude BBQ business that he opened in 2014 and closed six months later.

April Echelberger says they also had to take out $80,000 in loans that she's stuck repaying after they divorced in June 2015. 

He also received help from two local business owners, Buster O'Keefe, the former owner of The Rail Club, and Kyle Booker, one of the current owners of The Rail Club. They both claim they loaned Eichelberger, who was their good friend at the time, $14,000 and $25,000 respectively and still haven't received payment.  

"He totally took my money and ran," Booker says. "I told him that if you make payments, I won’t have nothing bad to say about you. That was a year and half ago, and he was supposed to make payments. I would have taken a 100 bucks and been happy. But he made no effort." 

Eichelberger admits to using the Ride for Dime's charity money to reimburse himself for spending his own money to fund other Ride for Dime events across the nation when he took over as president in early 2009. "By law I can take 50 percent," he says. But he didn't claim the reimbursements on the charity's tax forms in 2009 or 2010. In fact, the nonprofit's tax forms from 2008 to 2010 shows one donation of $2,000 to Little Kids Rock in 2009.

He told the Observer that he donated $10,000 to Little Kids Rock in 2009, but he didn't claim the full donation on the charity's tax forms. He also listed the Ride for Dime's secretary on the 2009 and 2010 tax forms as "Philly" Joe Jones, the former Philadelphia Ride for Dime chapter president. But Jones told the Observer that he never gave Eichelberger permission to use his name on the tax forms. 

"He took the cash box home," Jones says. "Rob was the only one who actually sit there and counted the money. No accountability. He used his limitless Ride for Dime card to buy booze for everybody around until he couldn’t stand up anymore. I was the last chapter president to give up on [Ride for Dime]. My chapter always raised money and was always proud for what they done." 

Little Kids Rock claim that it appeared Eichelberger was hosting fundraisers for its organization, but it wasn't receiving any of the funds for approximately five years. Ride for Dime still lists Little Kids Rock as one of several charities it supports on its website.

"We had a falling out because we quit receiving donations from him," says Keith Hejna, senior manager of donor relations at Little Kids Rock. 

Ride for Dime's tax forms are not available after 2010, according to GuideStar, the largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. Eichelberger says he uses Dime's estate's accountant, Rasco & Rasco, PC , to handle the taxes. 

Carey Stringer, a tax accountant at Rasco & Rasco, verified that her office has been filing taxes for the charity but pointed out that, "All the information on the tax forms was based on information provided by Rob [Eichelberger]."  

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.

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