May 18, 2016

Wedding planner charged with fraud

Note: Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a similar crime should call the Sheriff's Office at 305-289-2351 and ask to file an offense report.

A local wedding planner was booked into jail yesterday, accused of defrauding two couples who paid her to plan their weddings.

According to offense reports, the couples found 36 year old Kathryn Bentley of Key West listed as a wedding planner on a web site for the Islander Resort in Islamorada and contacted her, one couple in August and one in September of last year,  to plan their weddings. Both couples made a down payment for Bentley to begin working on the events, which were supposed to take place at the Islander Resort.

One couple, who were supposed to be married in November of 2016, began to suspect something was wrong when Bentley prematurely charged their credit card for a second payment in November; according to their contract with her, the payment wasn’t due until February of 2016. When they contacted her about it, she said she would return the money, but she didn’t. They continued to try to contact her, but she did not return their calls. When they contacted the resort about it, the resort reportedly told them Bentley does not work for the resort and there were no reservations made for their wedding.

The second couple made several payments to Bentley for a total of $23,000 for a wedding that was supposed to be scheduled for February of 2016. In January, they attempted to contact Bentley about the upcoming nuptials, but she did not respond. When they contacted the resort, they discovered no payments had been made to them for the wedding; they said they were able to get in touch with Bentley who assured them she would make a payment to the resort right away, but she never did.

Both couples called the Sheriff’s Office in January to report being defrauded by Bentley. Detective Ian Barnett was assigned as the lead investigator on the case.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of Bentley, who turned herself in to the Stock Island Detention Center on Tuesday. She was charged with two counts each of grand theft and fraud. Detectives are still investigating her activities and more charges may be pending.

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