Travel agent pleads no contest to 31 counts of theft

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Three years of anger and frustration may finally lead to justice for families who lost thousands of dollars to a travel agent.

The owner of Diplomat Travel has pleaded no contest to 31 counts of theft.

Victims are holding out hope that they’ll get their money back. But if not, some say the owner of the business should get prison time.

Victims say there was relief and hope after getting a letter from the prosecutors office, saying Elma Pacleb, the owner of Diplomat Travel will be sentenced in August.

It was three years ago when KHON2 started reporting that dozens of families paid cash for trips to the Philippines, only to find out that their tickets were never booked. Some of them found that out when they got to the airport.

“I was so mad that time at that moment when we were at the airport then we found out we cannot fly,” said victim Ricardo Ramos.

“Honestly, I think the majority of them, they want to see her get some jail time and that would make them feel at ease,” said Russell Tupinio, whose aunt also lost thousands of dollars.

Tupinio has been in touch with the victims since it all began. He says many lost hope after about a year.

Pacleb was arrested in November 2016, but she was not charged until October 2018. So during that time, she remained free and angered some of her victims.

“It frustrates me. I also get the reaction from the victims. They message me, oh, I see her at the market, she’s flaunting with her Louis Vuitton bags,” said Tupinio.

Victims are encouraged to testify at the hearing or at least write a letter to the judge before sentencing. Ramos plans to be there in person.

“She has to pay me back cause that’s my money. It’s up to the court decision on what kind of punishment she’s gonna get. But for me, all I need is to pay me back,” he said.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 14.

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