Wednesday, July 25, 2012/lk
Sue Collins, owner of Cascade Travel in Hood River, has been charged with four misdemeanor counts of theft II, according to Hood River Police Detective Don Cheli, lead investigator on the case. Collins is scheduled to appear in Hood River Circuit Court on Aug. 6.
The charges stem from allegations by four family members, Cynthia Cannarile, Angela Guisinger, Rose Charlotte Rhodes and Kaylee Rumsey, who reported to police a distressing tale of irregular travel bookings, delayed ticket purchases and credit card charges gone awry.
“I had great faith in her to give us a wonderful experience and that is not what we got. This was a nightmare,” said Cannarile.
The specific charges of misdemeanor theft II are tied to travel insurance paid for by the family to Collins at Cascade Travel in April, which was then apparently never purchased by Collins.
The alleged theft was uncovered when the family was unable to return home early from their Ireland trip for a family illness because the insurance policies had never been purchased. The total theft amounted to $486 — money taken from each women in the amount of $121.50 each.
According to allegations by Cannarile, that discovery was just one small part of multiple distressing failures resulting from the interactions with Collins.
Although criminal charges are not applicable on several other aspects of their experience, Cannarile and her sister, mother and niece, wanted to tell their story, of a once-in-a-lifetime vacation gone sour, in hope of preventing others from experiencing their fate.
According to Cheli, this family’s charges are not the only complaints filed against Collins.
Another group filing complaints, Kay Ericksen and her daughter Sarah Keller and her husband Jason, have also made allegations of airline tickets going unpaid after they submitted full payment to Collins, leaving the family having to purchase new ones within hours of a scheduled family trip to Disneyland. They allege over $800 in initial loss, along with over $3,330 in last-minute replacement ticket costs.
According to Sarah Keller, the Hood River County District Attorney’s office has been in receipt of their complaints since mid-June but she is not yet aware of any charges being filed from that office.
District Attorney John Sewell was unable to be reached for comment on Tuesday morning.
In several other cases reported to Cheli, Collins has managed to provide “civil compromise” to those reporting the problems, which in most cases precludes criminal charges. Civil compromise can result when an alleged victim agrees to take some form of financial compensation or reparation to offset alleged losses.
According to Cannarile, full payment for four airline tickets was made to Collins on April 27 and 28 in the amount of $1,570.90 per person. That amount included the costs of travel insurance. The departure date was set for June 23.
As of June 22, Collins had not yet purchased airline tickets for the group. According to Cannarile, it took a trip to the police department and a family sit-in at Collins’ office on June 22, with the threat of theft charges, to obtain their paid airline tickets for departure on June 23 at 6 a.m.
They received confirmation of payment to the airlines around midnight the night before their departure.
Another impropriety alleged by Cannarile and born out by credit card statements, was Collins charging another unrelated family’s travel expenses (to Panama) onto Rhode’s credit card, while her own expected tour expenses in Ireland were not listed on her charge card.
The ultimate total dollar charge of nearly $2,800 was the same — meaning that no additional money was taken from Rhodes — and so no charges could be filed as a result of Collins’ irregular business operation. Rhodes did receive the tour tickets from Collins, even though they were not purchased through her own credit card.
“Our hope, our intention, is not to pin her to the wall. It’s just the fact that we don’t want anybody else to go through the horror that we went through in planning a simple trip,” said Cannarile.
Collins was unable to be reached for comment prior to press time at either her cell phone or office phone.
Cheli requests that any additional concerns on the case should be directed to him at the Hood River Police Department at 541-387-5257.