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N.Y. AG sues travel agency

By Bryan Cohen | May 12, 2011


BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Thursday that his office has successfully sued a travel agency that allegedly took thousands of dollars from consumers and failed to deliver the promised travel packages.

Romano Travel Inc., and owners Gary Swatling and Gail Romano are required by the judgment to pay restitution in the amount of $114,442.20 to over 69 consumers.

"Romano Travel duped consumers who paid significant amounts of money for vacations, months in advance, only to find out weeks before their travel dates, there would be no trip," Schneiderman said. "Due to consumers coming forward and our vigorous investigation, this company will no longer be allowed to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers."

Since January 2009, the owners of Romano Travel allegedly induced customers to pay for cruises and other vacations many months in advance. When consumers attempted to pick up the travel documents, Romano allegedly made excuses why the consumers could not go. The suit alleged that Romano Travel never paid the providers or cruise lines for these trips, which left the consumers without their trips or money.

In one alleged incident, a couple planning their 50th wedding anniversary signed up with Romano Travel nearly a year in advance. After finding out two weeks before their scheduled cruise that they couldn't go, they had to find another travel agent and pay a second time for the cruise.

Romano Travel had offices in Waverly, Ithaca and Endwell, Swatling and Romano allegedly closed their offices in May 2010 and left dozens of consumers stuck with no vacations and only promises of refunds, which they never made. Some consumers who allegedly purchased travel insurance attempted to make refund claims and were denied because they were told there was no coverage.

Judge M. John Sherman also issued an injunction preventing Romano Travel Inc., Gary Swatling and Gail Romano from engaging in the travel agency business in New York until they post a $250,000 bond and pay civil penalties of $118,000. The court awarded a judgment for victim restitution of $114,442.20.

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