Today El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal announced the arrest of two individuals 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 and ballroom's manager Ricardo Espinoza were arrested today by County Attorney's investigators. Flores was arrested around 9:15 a.m. at a residence in East El Paso. Espinoza was detained at his current place of employment in central El Paso.
Police reports indicate that from September, 2008, and up until January 2011, the defendants received more than $98,000 from 36 residents who paid them in advance to hold events at the Mission Valley Ballroom scheduled for 2011. After closing the ballroom at the beginning of this year, the defendants are alleged to have failed to return the money to the victims.
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.
45 year-old Donna Cortez Flores faces six counts of Deceptive Business Practices, a crime of dishonesty punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $4,000. She was booked in the County jail shortly after 10:00 a.m. and her bond was set at $1,800.
45-year-old Ricardo Espinoza faces five counts of Deceptive Business Practices, and his bond was set at $2,500.
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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