Cleveland's 'Dancing with the Stars' competition causes controversy

JG Spooner and Kellyn Nicole posing with trophy. (Source: JG Spooner)
JG Spooner and Kellyn Nicole posing with trophy. (Source: JG Spooner)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland celebrities put on their best dance moves for a charity of their choice.

Now one local charity is told they won't be receiving a check from the proceeds.

Celebrity participants said organizers behind Cleveland's version of "Dancing with the Stars" did "The Hustle" on them.

"The charity event was a complete mess," said one participant. Judging confusion, lack of organization and winning team mixups were all reported to Cleveland19's Carl Monday.

"Dancing with the Cleveland Stars" is a dance competition where couples practice their dance moves for 8 weeks and later compete for a charity of their choice. First place receives 10 percent of the general admission proceeds, after paying out all funds for general expenses. Several couples contacted Cleveland19 after confusion surfaced surrounding who won the event for first, second and third place.

After the competition ended, JG Spooner and Kellyn Nicole were told they had won by the event's MC and dancing coach, Johnny Sal. The couple even posed with the first-place trophy that night, at the end of the competition.

The next day, Spooner, a radio producer for 92.3 The Fan, inquired to Sal about when his winning proceeds would be delivered to his charity, The Cooper Foundation. He also asked when the trophy would be delivered. After several texts and missed messages five days after the event, the results of the competition were officially emailed out in a press release. Spooner and Kellyn had not even placed. There was a two-way tie for first and third place. But Spooner and Kellyn were not in the top five at all.

This after the couple scored all 10s during both shows. They were the only couple with two perfect scores that night and reportedly had the most audience votes, according to one of the judges who counted the ballots.

Also noted was confusion on how the dancing was to be judged. Couples were told at the beginning that there could be no ties, only to find out later that there were two.

Cleveland19 contacted Sal who claimed he had little to do with the show other than being the dancing coach. Sal deferred all other inquiries to Lizabeth Rice, who was the event manager.

Cleveland19 reached out to Rice a number of times looking for answers. How much did the event raise? Why the mix-up with winners? Rice stopped returning our calls several days into our investigation. It turns out that Cleveland19 was not the only group looking for Rice. She has a warrant out for her arrest stemming from an OVI charge in 2014 through Cleveland Municipal Court, confirmed by the Clerk of Courts.

There is some good news about the event. The couples listed on the results email did receive $500 checks for the St. Judes and the Marine Corp.

Dancer Kellyn and JG Spooner tell Cleveland19 that they may compete in a dancing charity event, but it will not be for Ballroom Rocks Cleveland Inc, owned and managed by Lizabeth Rice. Spooner has setup a gofundme account to help raise money for his charity.

Cleveland19's own Shanice Dunning also participated in the event. She too told Chief Investigator Carl Monday "the event was a complete mess. I am embarrassed because I am a part of it and my name is on it."  Dunning said that her concern is that "this organization, Ballroom Rocks Cleveland, and their event 'Dancing with the Cleveland Stars' is just deceptive." Dunning suggests that anybody whoever looks at Ballroom Rocks Cleveland or working with Johnny Sal to think twice about it and always check thoroughly events you are participating in for charity.

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