NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyRoyal Palm Beach


Romanian man arrested in Palm Beach County for lying about sick child, soliciting donations

Giovani Radu, 22, made more than $100,000 per year in the scam, affidavit says
Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 19:10:04-05

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Caroline McGinley remembers seeing a guy playing a violin and begging for money at the TJ Maxx plaza in Royal Palm Beach.

"I noticed he had a sign. He had said he had a sick kid and he needed money and all that stuff," she said.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, it was all a fraud.

In the probable cause affidavit, it states Giovani Radu, 22, or "Johnny Violeta," as he likes to go by, is facing numerous charges, including organized scheme to defraud and soliciting charitable donation under false pretense.

"I feel like he didn't have to lie about his kid being sick or even having a kid," McGinley said. "I feel like people would have given him money."

The affidavit said deputies were called on Radu at the plaza on Dec. 23. While trying to drive away in his Ford Explorer, he was stopped.

Deputies seized numerous items from Radu's vehicle. In his SUV were large sums of cash, eight signs asking for donations, luxury clothing from Prada, Gucci, Armani and bank receipts for deposits, transfers and balances indicating nearly $80,000 in cash deposits over the last year.

A records check revealed Radu, who is from Romania, is unlawfully in the U.S. The affidavit showed Radu confessed to not having any children whatsoever.

Dave, a shopper at the plaza, said it's all a shame.

"Especially if you claim you have children," he said. "There are so many other people who need money for real, so that is not a cool thing to do and it's definitely a crime."

The affidavit goes on to say that Radu admitted to making more than $100,000 a year on the scheme.

The FBI is now investigating investigating.