JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit on Friday against a Utah-based travel service that allegedly took $360,000 from the Willard Band to book a summer trip to Hawaii.
Present America Tours LLC and Calliope Saaga, the company's owner, agreed to make all travel arrangements for the Willard Band for a trip to Hawaii, including tours, meals, hotel, airfare, travel insurance and complete schedules for the trip by the end of January. The Willard Band Boosters wired the money to Saaga between February 2011 and January 2012. The band allegedly did not receive the schedules by the date agreed upon and tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to reach Saaga.
Saaga contacted the school in April but did not prove that the trip was booked or provide the band with a trip itinerary.
Koster also obtained a temporary restraining order against the defendants prohibiting them from conducting business in the state and from selling or advertising travel services. Greene County Judge Mark Powell also ordered certain bank accounts in Saaga's name to be frozen.
The restraining order will last until at least May 10 and prohibits the defendants from destroying any documents related to selling travel services in the past two years. On May 10, a hearing to extend the amount of time the restrictions will be kept in place will be held.
In addition to requesting that the $360,000 be returned to the band, the lawsuit seeks civil penalties for the alleged violations.
"Willard Band members and their families worked hard to raise a great deal of money for this trip of a lifetime," Koster said. "My office will do all we can to try to get the money back for these kids."