State launches investigation into local wedding company
Updated On: May 12 2014 11:25:54 PM EDT
Channel 4’s investigation into a local wedding planning group has prompted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to take a closer look at Jacksonville’s Alpha and Omega Event Consultants.
Bondi’s office contacted Channel 4 about stories that have run in regards to Alpha and Omega’s business practices. Since February, nearly a dozen Jacksonville brides and grooms have contacted Channel 4 about Alpha and Omega. The couples Channel 4 spoke with claim that the wedding planning group has been operating under a veil of secrecy and fraud.
"The allegations here are that they weren't doing anything, and if that's true, then it's fraud, and there's great potential for the state to bring criminal charges,” said legal expert and Jacksonville attorney Gene Nichols.
The Florida Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is using Channel 4’s stories about the wedding company as a launching pad in its investigation. The Consumer Protection Division will now work over the next several months to determine if the company has been defrauding Jacksonville couples. Nichols told Channel 4 Monday night that the process is lengthy and labor intensive.
“This is perfect and ripe for her office to look into to decide what they should do, if they should get involved and what the possible remedies could be,” said Nichols. “They are going to consider whether or not they violated any civil issues such as the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practice Act. They're going to decide if there are any criminal issues such as fraud and decide whether or not these individuals and/or corporation should either have a civil suit against them for civil reasons and the state can do something about that. They can actually sue you if Ms. Bondi's office feels it’s necessary.”
Former Alpha and Omega client Sherri Kelly told Channel 4 in March that she and her husband took the company to court and won some of their $6,400 back.
"Everybody needs to know that they are shammers (sic),” said Kelly.
“If a judge has already found a judgment against them for not doing their job, there’s no question, Ms. Bondi’s office, that gives them more ammunition to consider a potential criminal prosecution if necessary,” said Nichols.
Public records show the company was evicted from its property in St. Nicholas three months ago for failing to pay $22,000 in rent. Since 2012, records with the Florida Department of Revenue show Dorza Inc., which is the corporation the company operates under, owes more than $12,000 in back taxes. It’s information that Nichols said Bondi’s office will also consider during the investigation.
He said the Consumer Protection Division will work to make sure no companies take money and then fail to deliver on tasks they were hired to do.
It is unclear where the company is currently operating from, but Alpha and Omega still has a working website and a Facebook page. Neither of the websites list an address for the company, only phone numbers.
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