TROUBLESHOOTERS: Camp workers waiting for pay, camp waiting for grant


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Many people depend on a summer job to help pay for school. That’s the reason why some students worked at a new summer camp in Wilmington. But they haven’t been paid.

The camp’s director claims there’s a reason why.

- Advertisement -

The Student Athletic Basketball Academy (SABA) is a new summer program that started in June. From 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. it helps keeps kids off the streets. Tyshiea Robinson worked there as counselor.

“I was helping him with basketball coaching with the kids,” Robinson said. “The girls and I’d go out of town with them, and coach the kids, chaperone them.”

Leet Hamlet says he was hired as a maintenance man.

“I was supposed to keep the building in order, but I got there, he had me doing everything watching kids to taking out the trash, everything,” Hamlet said.

But when payday came there were no paychecks. After working for more than a month, Hamlet and Robinson both quit.

“My lease runs out this month, so I will have to move out in September,” Robinsons said. “I can’t renew my lease because of that, and I will have to go in my savings account and scrape my savings account to pay my bills, and I could’ve had another job.”

“I was scared at first, thinking he was going to fire me or say, ‘Son, you can’t ask me a question about this,'” Hamlet said. “But then I finally asked, ‘When we getting paid?’ he got mad at me fussing at me, like, don’t worry about the money.”

“He” is Clifton Thomas, the camp’s director. We went to the camp to find out why he hasn’t paid his employees.

“About two to three weeks before the program started I told each person, ‘I don’t know when you’ll get paid, but you will get paid,'” Thomas said. “I said, ‘We deal off grants and from DSS,’ and I said, ‘You know the money is guaranteed, but I don’t know when you’re going to get paid, but you will get paid.'”

He brought in a witness to back up his claim.

Thomas showed us his checkbook, where he gave each employee a couple hundred dollars out of his own account to help tide them over.

Robinson and hamilton don’t deny receiving that money, but swear Thomas promised them they would be paid in full on July 11. They have since filed claims with the Department of Labor.

Thomas says he has a pending $96,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Once he receives that, employees will be paid.

We spoke with Dawn Beasley, an investigative assistant with the Department of Labor. She says she has gathered information about this claim and has passed it along to a local investigator. We are waiting to hear back from that investigator to see where things stand.