VALPARAISO | Former NFL defensive end Jared Tomich was arrested last week on theft charges in connection to equipment missing from a health club business he ran.
Tomich, 39, of Schererville, was booked into the Porter County Jail on Thursday on a felony theft charge.
Police contend Tomich removed items from the business which belonged to the business owners, but Tomich said Tuesday he has receipts for items in question. He said he is working with his attorneys to prove his innocence.
“I’m hoping that when they realize I have receipts for this, things can be taken care of, and what did happen gets taken care of properly,” he said.
Valparaiso authorities were called Aug. 25 by Tamara and Aaron Pankau about some items missing from Valpo Fitness at 2352 W. Morthland Drive. According to Valparaiso police, Tomich ran the health club for Aaron Pankau’s parents, Anthony and Carole Pankau.
Police said Tomich had operated the establishment for eight months.
Tamara Pankau told investigators the equipment was in the building on Aug. 16. On Aug. 21, Carole Pankau noticed some items appeared missing. The report states Tomich said the items were stored in cabinets around the building.
On Aug. 25, Aaron Pankau and other family members checked the building and could not find the items.
Among the items missing were exercise and office equipment along with satellite radios. The value of the missing equipment was estimated about $8,200, according to Valparaiso authorities.
Court documents state there was no lease signed by Tomich. Instead, there was a letter of understanding. That letter called for Tomich to run the business, keep profits and pay for upkeep and utilities.
Pankau was to pay for insurance on the building until Tomich could purchase the building from the Pankaus.
Court documents state when Carole Pankau received an offer from a church group to buy the building, Tomich was asked to make an offer on the building, but according to Carole Pankau he could not afford it. When informed Carole Pankau accepted the offer from the church group to buy the building, she informed Tomich and he closed the gym.
Police met with Tomich on Sept. 4. Court documents state Tomich was upset the building was being sold because he was promised he could run the gym until March or April 2014. He told police the business had not yet become profitable.
He told police initially he could not recall where the missing items were. Then he told police some of the items may have been moved to his warehouse. He told police he believed some of the items were taken by his instructors and some of the items had been discarded when he replaced them.
Police learned that Tomich had purchased Southlake Nautilus in Valparaiso and was renaming it Fuel Fitness. Police received a search warrant for the new business and found yoga blocks and straps that belonged to the Pankaus.
Tomich told police the instructors had purchased those items and he would provide receipts for those items. Police said Tomich never produced those receipts.
Charges were signed Jan. 20 and received by the courts Jan. 27.
He was arrested Thursday by the Porter County Sheriff’s Department and was released on bond.
Tomich graduated from Lake Central High School, played college football at the University of Nebraska, and played in the NFL from 1997 through 2003 for the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Tomich said the issue is a “business thing that should have been handled between businesses.”
He said he was surprised when he learned about the warrant for his arrest because he takes seriously his standing in the community.
“So to have this blemish on my name it’s a big deal for me,” he said.