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Party hall business owners sentenced for stealing tens thousands

KDBC
Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 7:19pm

El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal announced the sentencing of two people accused of shutting down their party hall business without notice after taking thousands of dollars in advance payments from unsuspecting consumers.

Mission Valley Ballroom administrator Donna Cortez Flores pled guilty this afternoon to 5 charges of Deceptive Business Practices and one charge of Theft by Check before County Court at Law Judge Alex Gonzalez. Mission Valley Ballroom manager Ricardo Espinoza also pled guilty to 5 charges of committing a Deceptive Business Practice.

According to court records, between April 2010 and up until September 2011, the defendants received more than $90,000 from 36 residents who paid them in advance to hold events at the Mission Valley Ballroom. After closing the ballroom at the beginning of 2011, the defendants are alleged to have failed to return the money to the victims.

45 year-old Donna Cortez Flores was sentenced to 12 months straight probation, restitution in the amount of $72,600, as well as 150 hours of community service.

45-year-old Ricardo Espinoza was sentenced to 12 months straight probation, restitution in the amount of $72,300, as well as 125 hours of community service.

El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal explained “a business owner who takes money in advance, receives that money in trust. If they choose to violate that trust, the law holds them accountable.”

“We allege these defendants violated the law and that trust,” Bernal concluded.

El Paso County Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges in relation to 6 of the victims, and continues investigating the cases for the remaining 30 victims. Additional arrests are likely.

Residents who believe they might be victims of this or any other similar case, are asked to contact the Criminal Section of the County Attorney's Office, at 546-2050.

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