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Former travel agent sentenced to prison

September 09, 2004|BY PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Former CW Travel Inc. Manager Rebecca Calimer Price was sentenced Wednesday to serve five years in prison for stealing more than $23,000 from some of her clients in late 1999 and early 2000.

Price, 30, of 32 E. Baltimore St. in Greencastle, Pa., was sentenced by Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley on five counts of felony theft. He suspended 11 years of a 16-year prison sentence.

Price was convicted in July of stealing more than $23,000 from some of her clients by having them make checks payable to her for either defunct airplane tickets or for payments on trips that didn't happen, including a senior citizens' group cruise to the Caribbean and a group trip to a NASCAR race.

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Her attorney, John Salvatore, argued that she was overwhelmed when thrust into a managerial position at the travel agency and essentially was robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Beachley told Price before sentencing: "Clearly one hopes that you will eventually see that your scheme was not simply to rob Peter to pay Paul."

Price, who looked at the rows of people sitting on the prosecution's side of the courtroom, said, "I cannot take away anything that you guys have experienced or the trust issues some of you suffer from. To you guys, I'm greatly sorry, and to the court."

Before Price spoke, Salvatore said, "Rebecca is not the kind of person who wants, or even intends, to hurt other people."

He said she had no prior criminal record. He said that she has a 3.8 grade-point average at Shippensburg University, where she is a junior studying gerontology, the scientific study of the process of aging and of the problems of aged people.

Salvatore said that based on letters from victims, it would appear that Price had no remorse for her actions, which is not true. He said, "She puts on a brave face. She's suffered a lot of emotional agony over this incident."

Salvatore said that Price's family was prepared to pay restitution to the victims on Wednesday. Beachley said that restitution will be required to as a condition of her five-year probationary period.

He said that this case "boils down to right and wrong," a concept he said most 10-year-olds understand. He said that Price's "scheme" to sell defunct airplane tickets "demonstrates your intelligence," which he said is backed up by her grade-point average.

Rose Straley was the coordinator of the group, Enjoy Growing Older Inc., who had planned for 175 people to go on a Caribbean cruise that didn't materialize. She said that members paid out a total $88,750 for the cruise. Beachley said that an "hors d'oeuvre party" thrown by Price for the members of the group, who she knew would not cruise, was "egregious."

"I'm still not really satisfied for what we went through," Straley said after the sentencing.

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