By Dorothy Tucker and Carol Thompson

CHICAGO (CBS) — Timothy Donovan lost his job and his marriage.

“So, mentally I really wasn’t all there,” he said.

So Donovan spent hours at the gym back in 2011 working out all that stress. That gym was XSport Fitness in Libertyville. That’s where Donovan met Rick Dugo in the fall of 2012.

“I mean, he was always the life of the party kind of thing. You know, loud but cheerful,” recalled Donovan.

Dugo seemed to have all the trappings of a successful businessman: the fancy cars, expensive speed boats and large homes.

“So that kind of attracted people. You know, I want to know this guy,” said Donovan.

Donovan did get to know Dugo 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 doled out cash to Dugo like it was candy. Turning over thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars at a time to invest in the sweet-sounding money-making ventures.

Donovan showed CBS 2 his bank statements noting several large withdrawals – one even mentions Rick Dugo’s name. Many of those withdrawals were in the $8,000 to $49,000 range.

One of the biggest investments involved owning part of an existing Mundelein car wash and building another hand car wash inside a Chicago skyscraper. That’s the one that excited Donovan the most. It would be built at Trump Tower.

“This is it,” said Donovan. “Nothing out there like it.”

The car wash investments added up to $191,500 recalls Donovan.

“You get to a point where you’re trying to make it work, no matter what,” said Donovan. “You’re almost making yourself believe that everything is fine.”

Donovan finally realized everything was not fine, when he went to the Trump Tower parking garage and discovered there was no car wash. All of that 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 drops out.”

That’s not all. There were more dubious deals he invested in. Donovan wrote them all down and described each one. There was the TV in sports bars scam, the Mercedes scam, the speed boat engine scam, and the insurance glass scam – among others.

To pay for all that, Donovan raided his 401K and drained dry his children’s college funds.

He says altogether 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 started investigating Rick Dugo.

Finally, in March 2021, Dugo was charged by Lake County prosecutors with “theft” and “conspiracy” for conning Donovan and two others out of more than $800,000.

Earlier this year, when the indictment came down, Dugo was living large in a $650,000, four-bedroom home in Lake Forest. The home was being rented out by homeowner and former Chicago Bears’ head coach Dick Jauron.

The CBS 2 Investigators recently spoke with Jauron, who had no idea Rick Dugo was living there. He told us a woman’s name is on the lease. She doesn’t appear to be related to Dugo. Jauron said the rent was never paid and says he got stiffed for $28,000.

CBS 2 also discovered Dugo has a history of legal trouble.

He was sentenced to 5 years’ probation in a 2007 felony grand theft case in Ohio. Dugo entered a guilty plea in that case, which involved stolen boat engines.

Since 2000, there have been 11 civil lawsuits filed against Rick Dugo. Those cases involve evictions, fraud, and breach of contract. Four of those lawsuits ended with judgments against Dugo. He was ordered to repay a total of just over $350,000. Many of the plaintiffs we spoke with say they have yet to see their money.

 

 

More Accusers Come Forward

 

David Andreiw was just 21 years old when he became friends with Rick Dugo. Looking back now, he said, “I wish I never met him.”

Back in 2003, Andreiw worked as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness in Glendale Heights. That’s where he literally ran into Rick Dugo for the first time.

“I literally bounced off of him … fell on my butt at the doorway,” he recalled.

Over the next couple of weeks, their friendship grew. Andreiw said he looked up to Dugo because “he had a lot of nice things. Nice clothes … cars he was driving. The way that he spoke that he had all this money.”

Dugo’s pitch to Andreiw may sound familiar as well. It was another car wash deal that made Andreiw salivate.

Eventually, 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 that were attorneys and people there that were from the city talking about zoning,” Andreiw said. “At the time, would you question someone: ‘Can I see your badge? Can I see that you’re really working for the city? Can I see that you’re really an attorney?’”

Andreiw is convinced the people he met were Dugo’s friends pretending to be VIPs.

“He literally had others portray others that were fake,” said Andreiw. “In the end it’s all to get money.”

Andreiw said Dugo’s car wash investment pitch went like this: money would be needed for the monthly lease and equipment to get the business going. “He would tell me it’s like $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 and we would be up and running but I would be making $15,000, $20,000 a month. I was excited. I truly was.”

Andreiw said he wiped out his bank account and maxed out his credit cards, investing $76,000 himself. Then Andreiw did something he has lived to regret.

“I let this devil into my family,” he said. He took Dugo home to suburban Wood Dale where several relatives got to know Dugo. “I feel horrible.”

Almost everybody, says Andreiw, got scammed. He rattled off the names of 20 people including his closest family and friends and their family and friends. Altogether, 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, said Andreiw, got scammed out even more money – hundreds of thousands of dollars – by putting an expensive truck and boat in his name for Dugo until Dugo would buy them back. The total for Andreiw and his family now rose to close to half a million dollars, he said.

Andreiw says he worked 12-hour days for two years to repay everyone the cash they 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 I learned ‘em at that age.”

“It took years to recover financially. I had to go bankrupt, to cover my losses, my credit cards,” Andreiw continued. “I wish I could go back in time and see him and run in the other direction.”

 

Decades of Deception

 

So, who is this accused con man?  Rick Dugo grew up on the North Side and attended Gordon Tech High School in the early 80s. Back then, he was Rick Schulte. He legally changed his last name to Dugo in 2005.

The CBS 2 Investigators spoke with a former girlfriend from the 80s who wanted to speak without revealing her face or name.

“I think I was 16 when I met him,” she said. “He was good looking.”

She flipped through several photos from those days that she had 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 with that money he promised he’d get her the car. “And that was the last I ever saw of that.”

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, says Krent, falls on law enforcement.

David Andreiw said he went to the FBI to file a complaint against Dugo nearly 20 years ago. But he said, “In order for them to look into I needed to have an actual loss of $250,000 – and since I did not have that, nothing happened.”

Nothing happened until 2018, when Dugo finally got the attention of Lake County authorities.

Professor Krent offered an explanation for why Lake County prosecutors pursued Dugo, when others supposedly didn’t.

“It may be that they saw repetition of behavior and they wanted to stop it to prevent other victims from falling to this individual’s charm,” he said.

Stopping Dugo is what the former girlfriend, David Andreiw, and Timothy Donovan all want.

“He’s a complete fake. He’s a phony. He’s a scammer,” said Donovan. “He’s a monster, he really is.”

Donovan would like to see Dugo behind bars for a long time.

CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker caught up to Rick Dugo this summer outside a Vernon Hills townhouse. He was about to get in a big Ford pickup truck. She asked him about the criminal charges and the accusations others are making about additional scams.

Dugo said, “It’s a lie, but that’s why I have attorneys.” He then walked back to the front door, opened it and stepped inside, saying, “Thank you.”

He then shut the door.

Dugo has appeared in court via Zoom several times since the indictment in March. His attorneys are trying to get separate trials for each of the three victims. Plus prosecutors are indicating an additional charge involving a new victim could come soon.