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Travel agent's trial continues

June 24, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The trial of a former CW Travel Inc. manager charged with felony theft in connection with deals she allegedly made with clients in late 1999 and early 2000 resumed Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court with testimony from prosecution witnesses.

The former Hagerstown travel agency manager, Rebecca Calimer Price, 30, of 32 E. Baltimore St. in Greencastle, Pa., waived her right to a jury trial, opting for a bench trial. Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley is presiding.

Maryland Assistant State's Attorney General Paul Budlow, who is prosecuting the case, said Tuesday in his opening statement that Price sold to Enjoy Growing Older Inc., a senior citizens group, a seven-day, seven-night cruise, including air fare, at $625 per person.

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On Wednesday, Richard Paley, manager of revenue management systems and development with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, testified that Price booked the cruise at a rate of $1,225.75 per person, which included cruise fees but not air fare.

Paley testified that the cruise line received "zero" money from CW Travel for the group cruise, which never happened.

Harry Schulz, an investigative auditor in the Office of the Attorney General, testified that he went through Price's and CW Travel's bank accounts and found that she had deposited some money from clients in her personal bank accounts and had cashed checks from clients.

Brendan O'Dowd, a business analyst with Airlines Reporting Corporation, testified that an audit he performed on CW Travel in January 2000 uncovered 69 airline tickets that had been sold but not reported to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, and $126,000 in unreported cash sales. The company was then placed in default, he testified.

Fred Young Jr., a financial advisor, testified that when he met with Price in May 1999 for a consultation, she told him she had inherited $100,000. He testified he later advised her on how to invest $52,000 of it, but said Price never made investments with him.

Price's ex-husband, Michael Price, testified that the two were married in January 1999, and he did not know of the inheritance. Price testified that when she began work at CW Travel in the spring of 1998, her salary was in the low- to mid-$20,000 range, and she never had $52,000 to invest.

Rebecca Price's defense attorney, John Salvatore, said Tuesday in his opening statement that Price had "no criminal intent," in her dealings with clients, but was instead trying to help a failing business get back on top.

The trial is to resume this morning and could end today.

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