Talk about breaking wedding promises.
For a whopping total of 73 Missouri couples, what were supposed to be the happiest occasions of their lives soon turned into complete nightmares. That's all thanks to Ryan Crowell, an accused scammer who was ordered yesterday to pay more than $130,000 after messing up so many weddings.
"The actions of Mr. Crowell and his business not only cost many Kansas City area brides and grooms their money, but also the expense and stress of making new plans," Attorney General Chris Koster says in a news release. "His actions marred the wedding days of 73 couples."
How did he scam them?
First, with promises of a historic venue -- a promise he quickly struggled to keep, officials say.
Crowell and a Kansas City company called West Bottoms Hospitality, LLC failed to provide promised wedding services -- or refunds -- to these couples, Koster says. And now, the business and its owner must pay $43,463 in restitution as well as $87,346.38 in penalties and fees for breaking the law.
The Attorney General's office filed suit against the company last February -- and after a trial last month, a Jackson County circuit judge found Crowell had contracted with these 73 couples from September 2010 through April 2011 to rent out the historic Stowe Building for ceremonies. In some cases, he agreed to additional services, like photography, too.
None of them received anything they were promised.
The AG's announcement says:
Crowell promised the couples the Stowe Building would be renovated in time for scheduled weddings and receptions, the first of which was to take place on April 10, 2011. Despite these promises, Crowell failed to apply for the required construction permits. Crowell also failed to take steps necessary to get the 100-year-old warehouse up to code to hold events as planned: the building was not wheelchair accessible, the only passenger elevator was inoperable, and the fire escape did not even reach the ground. The defendants did not inform their consumers of the permitting issues.
Apparently, the city stopped renovations of the site due to "permit deficiencies" and then cancelled all 73 events.
The first wedding was supposed to happen less than a week following the cancellation.
And the company never gave back any of the money in deposits and other payments. Koster's office says, "Couples were left scrambling to find other venues and wedding services."
He adds that Crowell and his company are also barred from taking payment for event services in Missouri going forward, including, but not limited to, weddings.
A website that the company may have used appears no longer in operation and Daily RFT could not reach anyone yesterday at a number listed for the business.
Continue for a firsthand account of his scam and for the full news release.