Bogus funding effort set up in the name of unpaid autistic prep-cook

MIDDLETOWN, RI (WPRI) – As Caleb Dyl was about to get his long awaited pay checks for his prep-cook work at a Middletown restaurant, his parents were alerted to what they called a “fundraising scheme” – apparently aimed at profiting from Caleb’s ordeal.

Dyl was expected to receive 480 hours worth of pay as early as Friday from Applebee’s, 72 hours more than the amount of time his parents estimated he had worked without getting paid.

But a shocker hit the Portsmouth family last night when they found out about what they believe was a scheme to profit from the more than 300,000 views Caleb’s story attracted on the internet. Caleb’s father Bob said a GoFundMe campaign was set up by someone without the Dyl’s authorization.

“It was called Justice for Caleb, trying to raise $50,000. We were horrified,” Bob Dyl said. “It has been pulled down. My wife went on and hit the fraud tab.”

In an email to Target 12, GoFundMe Media Director Kelsea Little said the website has dealt with more than one attempt to set up a fund for Caleb.

“Several people in the community have attempted to set up a campaign to help Caleb,” Little said. “We are taking additional steps to verify the organizers of these campaigns.”

Bob Dyl said his family has no plans to set up or a approve a fundraising campaign for Caleb, emphasizing the issue was never about money.

“We do not appreciate or want to see people lashing out in anger towards Applebee’s or RHD.” – Bob Dyl, Caleb’s dad

The decision to pay Dyl for 480 hours was made after a short debate over how to determine his time on the job. According to Eleanor Clancy, Applebee’s New England south Director of Operations, there are no records of Dyl clocking in or out for his shifts. Initially the chain was going to pay him for 166 hours based on what she said were records kept by Resources for Human Development, the agency that placed Dyl in the job.

But Clancy said Applebee’s instead went with the parents’ figure, adding it was the right thing to do.

Bob Dyl emphasized the family has no ill-will toward Applebee’s or RHD, and has become frustrated with the reaction to the controversy from across the country.

“We do not appreciate or want to see people lashing out in anger towards Applebee’s or RHD,” Dyl said in a prepared statement. “We certainly did not expect it to go viral. And we are realizing that going viral is not necessarily a good thing.”

Listen to Bob Dyl’s entire statement about the controversy. Story continues below after video:

RHD Communications Manager Kevin Roberts said the agency is currently looking into what caused the problem.

“The staff at RHD Rhode Island believes they advocated strongly for Caleb, through emails, phone calls and visits to the restaurant for face-to-face conversations,” Roberts said. “But, it is also plain that this was not sufficient to resolve this quickly enough.”

Dyl said the family’s goal when they went public about the mishandled paychecks was to advocate for their son and make sure others were not facing similar problems.

Read the Target 12 report that sparked the state investigation »
Read the Target 12 report that sparked the state investigation »

“Something in the system failed and now it’s been brought to light,” Dyl said. “And it’s going to be dealt with and hopefully this never happens again.”

The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals is investigating why and how Caleb’s paychecks slipped through the cracks. Dyl said the state agency has contacted his family. Roberts said BHDDH and the Office of Rehab Services met with RHD staff today.

“RHD of course cooperated fully with their inquiry,” Roberts added.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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