A former Carolina Panthers fullback and the sports marketing group that helped him promote a charity fishing tournament are accused of failing to pay thousands of dollars in prize money to the tournament's winners, according to a lawsuit filed in Charleston County.
Mike Tolbert — who attended Coastal Carolina University and played for the Panthers from 2012 to 2017 — held the Charleston area tournament in May to benefit his Tolbert Family Spade Foundation, a nonprofit agency that helps underprivileged children in single-parent households.
Jessica Walsh and her Cornerstone Sports Marketing company helped to promote the tournament, according to court documents.
Tolbert could not be reached for comment through his foundation. Walsh declined to talk about the lawsuit on the record.
David Whittington, a Summerville lawyer representing some of the tournament winners, said in an interview that Tolbert paid some of the $80,000 in advertised prize money after he learned a previous payment by Walsh had been declined by the Venmo mobile payment service. But there are still at least a dozen people who have not been paid.
The lawsuit accuses Tolbert, his nonprofit agency, Walsh and Cornerstone of breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and unfair trade practices. Whittington is seeking triple damages and attorney's fees.
Tolbert's foundation also has run into problems. The Internal Revenue Service revoked its nonprofit status in 2017 for failing to file federal tax returns, according to online records. Its nonprofit status was reinstated in March, but the South Carolina Secretary of State's office said it issued a $2,000 fine this month against the foundation for failing to file registration documents.
Tolbert — a three-time Pro Bowl fullback — joined the Panthers after four years with the San Diego Chargers, running for 992 yards and catching passes for another 771 yards while scoring a combined 19 touchdowns during his time in Charlotte. He played in 12 games last year for the Buffalo Bills, scoring one touchdown and gaining a combined 325 rushing and passing yards.