In 2005, Scene exposed a long line of bogus claims and jilted employees connected to Bowling’s attempt to produce a reality TV show here in Cleveland. ["Reality Bites" December 21, 2005] He promised young hopefuls a shot at fame with local versions of America’s Next Top Model and American Idol, but disappeared with their money instead.
In recent years, Bowling has also been linked to raffles for nonexistent Hummers and running a lead-generation business that merely generated money for Bowling. Though he claimed several years ago that he fled to Arizona, Bowling sightings are on the rise again lately.
Last month, a guy named Rod Marshall posted a Craigslist ad for a job at his company, Media Planet. In interviews with eager applicants, he said he was planning a glitzy fundraiser for the Cleveland Foodbank at the downtown Hyatt. Their audition consisted of selling tickets to the event at $20 a pop. When some of them checked the facts, they learned the Hyatt had no event scheduled and the Foodbank wasn’t onboard.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Bowling and Marshall are one and the same. Media Planet was incorporated by Bowling last fall, and Bowling answers the phone number that’s printed on Marshall’s business card.
When Scene got Bowling on the phone recently, he claimed he’s still in Arizona, an unsuspecting victim of identity theft. “I’m not that kind of person,” he says. “I’m a churchgoing guy. I’ve been an honest guy all my life.”
But just one day after the aborted fundraiser, the honest guy was spotted a long way from his desert home. He was selling scratch-off tickets at a South Euclid gas station, using the name Rod Bowling. When Scene called back, he said he didn’t have time to talk — he was late to his graduation ceremony at Harvard University. — Kyle Swenson