NBC 5 Responds has been covering the wedding woes of some Collin county couples for two years and those couples are finally getting their money back.
It was July of 2014 when two brides told us they'd been jilted by their wedding coordinator. Since then, many more of viewers contacted us and the police. Finally, the coordinator, Tina Pope, had her day in court.
Pope pleaded guilty to taking more than $20,000 from more than 15 couples. Tim and Kat Bley, among the victims, paid Pope $1,300 last summer.
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"A couple of weeks after is when she pulled the plug," Kat Bley said.
The Bleys then received an email informing them that Pope would no longer be providing wedding coordinating services. She promised to pay the couples back, but never did.
The Bleys were not alone. Two other couples said they paid Pope for services they never got. After our story aired, more couples came forward.
Pope landed behind bars last August. Kat Bley was in court when Pope was sentenced.
"It's what you hope to happen, but to have it follow through and justice actually work, it's great to see," she said.
Police said criminal charges are unusual in a suspected consumer fraud case, but this one was clear.
"Our detectives were able to determine that there was theft," McKinney's Assistant Chief of Police Randy Roland said. "There were services that were never delivered and there was never any intention to deliver those services."
Pope will be on probation for six years and she'll have to pay everyone back. She owes more than $22,500.
"From my understanding, if she did jail time she wouldn't have an opportunity to pay us back," Kat Bley said. "So for her to pay the restitution and the probation to keep her honest, absolutely."
We reached out to Pope and her attorney for comment. Neither returned our calls and emails.
Before you hire a wedding planner, here's some advice from NBC5 Responds:
- Ask about training or experience.
- Ask for references from others who used the planner from beginning to end.
- Ask whether he or she carries business insurance.