Another ‘Shark Tank’ Contestant Arrested In New Jersey

Baker was first-ever entrepreneur to make a pitch on the popular reality TV show.

Shark Tank contestant Tod Wilson mugshot
Englewood NJ Police Department

Baker was first-ever entrepreneur to make a pitch on the popular reality TV show.

A second Shark Tank contestant in New Jersey has allegedly found himself on the wrong side of the law in as many weeks. Tod Wilson, who was the first hopeful in the tank on the inaugural episode of the reality show in its ABC television premiere on August 9, 2009, was reportedly arrested in connection with alleged statements he made to an Englewood, New Jersey, zoning official.

In his pitch to the sharks on the opening broadcast, Wilson sought $460,000 for a 10-percent stake in Mr. Tod’s Pies. Wilson told the panel that his successful business needed the cash because he couldn’t keep up with the demand, particularly for his signature sweet potato pie.

NJ.com summarizes the allegations against Wilson, the owner of Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory.

“Tod Wilson, 49, was arrested…at his Hudson Avenue bake shop in Englewood and charged with third degree witness tampering after he was issued several violations for signage at his business, Englewood Police Capt. Timothy Torell said. Torell would not say what type of sign violations or how many Wilson received.”

The Bergen County prosecutor is handling the case following the arrest last Wednesday. This story will be updated with any further developments.

At one point in the 2009 TV episode when Wilson briefly became emotional, he was chided by Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary to never cry about money because “it never cries for you.” Wilson appeared on Shark Tank when “infomercial king” Kevin Harrington was a member of the cast. Mark Cuban replaced Harrington during Season 2.

Shark Tank cast ABC TV
  Dan Steinberg / Invision/AP Images

At the conclusion of the pitch, Tod Wilson struck a deal with sharks Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John for the asking amount in exchange for 50 percent of his business. Wilson subsequently backed out of the agreement because of the equity demand, but he told NJBiz.com in April 2014 that the publicity on Shark Tank and elsewhere in the media caused a spike in sales and allowed him to expand the business to some extent.

The downside, Tod Wilson noted in the NJBiz.com story, was that “[p]eople saw me take the deal, so everyone assumes now that I don’t need any money…I think my appearance on the show caused me to miss out on other investment opportunities.” Shark Tank producers even filmed updates as if the deal went through, he added.

In a wholly separate matter, an entrepreneur who appeared on Shark Tank was among nine suspects arrested several weeks ago for allegedly being part of a New Jersey cocaine distribution ring. Prosecutors in Monmouth County charged John DePaola, 53, with one count of third-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Along with his two partners in their company known as “Likwid Concepts,” DePaola pitched a plastic paint brush cover in an episode of Shark Tank about three years ago that he claimed would “revolutionize” the painting industry. The paint brush cover makers wound up striking a deal with QVC queen Lori Greiner, who offered $200,000 for a 20 percent ownership interest in their company. Their original ask was $50,000 in exchange for 10 percent. DePaola’s lawyer told the Associated Press that the charge against his client was “baffling” and “without merit” and rejected the premise that his client was a “druggie” or is involved in drug dealing.

In a follow-up Shark Tank segment, the entrepreneur trio explained that their product went into wide retail distribution with Lori Greiner’s help and recorded $1.5 million in sales to that point.

Watch Tod Wilson’s presentation on the very first episode of Shark Tank in the clip below.