SPRING HILL, Fla. - In recent years, a group of Pasco County widows have become quite the travelers, busing to places like Savannah and Boston.
"It's great. It's something to look forward to," said Theresa Mannucci.
For their latest adventure, they booked a bus trip to New Orleans, each paying between $300 and $400 through Hollywood Tours in Spring Hill.
"I was so excited, I couldn't wait to get my money in," said Marcia Polancih.
Last week, they had their bags packed, and plans were made.
But the afternoon before leaving for the Big Easy came a big disappointment.
"I couldn't believe it. How could this possibly happen?" asked Mannucci.
They got recorded calls from Hollywood Tours saying the trip was off and they would hear from an attorney.
"I don't know if I was more upset about the money or if I was more upset about not being able to go," said Janet Cox.
While the door is locked at Hollywood Tours, there is note up that say they are no longer in business and all trips have been canceled. But it looks like someone else left their own note that says 'make police report now.'"
According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, 15 customers have filed reports.
We've heard from some of them, including a New Port Richey church group that had plans to see Christmas lights in St. Augustine. The group is out more than $5,000.
Hollywood Tour owners filed for bankruptcy last week. And at this point, investigators say they don't know if a crime has taken place.
"Our checks were in August, so they've had our money since August. They've had to have known before," said Cox.
The owner of Hollywood Tours, a Tampa chiropractor, would not comment, and his attorney, Elena Ketchum later released a statement, saying the owner cannot fulfill the commitments. (See the entire statement below.)
The ladies would like their money back, but aren't optimistic. In the meantime they plan to continue traveling.
And eventually they will make that trip to New Orleans.
Statement from Elena Ketchum, bankruptcy attorney for Hollywood Tours of Spring Hill:
The owners are devastated that the business has failed and that they did not handle the notification of the problems better. While more facts will come out in the process, when the owners recently purchased the business, there was more indebtedness than expected. The owners have invested thousands of dollars of their personal money and liquidated personal assets trying to get the company on its feet but can no longer maintain the level of investment required to fulfill the commitments to Hollywood Tour’s customers.
The owners are hopeful that a good outcome will come out of an unfortunate situation but it will be up to the courts to determine the final outcome. The owners deeply regret what has happened.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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