BOSTON (AP)- The claim doesn't involve big money, but priceless memories.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley claims in a civil action filed this week that a wedding videography company scammed dozens of newlywed couples by never delivering their video footage or refunding their money.
The lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court seeks to recover the victims' wedding footage and about $75,000 in restitution and penalties from a business that operated in Millbury as SureShot Portraits, LLC by owner Jesse J. Clark.
"He took advantage of more than 80 couples on their wedding days, robbing them not only of thousands of dollars but of, more importantly, those priceless memories," Coakley said Thursday.
Coakley said her office got 84 complaints, including from a Waltham couple who paid $1,000 but never got video footage from their May 2012 wedding.
"It's been devastating," 25-year-old Lauren Baldner said Thursday. "We just wanted to be able to preserve those memories."
Her husband Ryan said they'd like to someday show their children a video of their first dance and be able to remember all the details from that day.
"I would love to see my wife walk down that aisle again and I just hope that we can eventually get our wedding video back," he said.
The lawsuit also names Clark's wife, Veronica Clark, and a company employee as defendants.
The business owner couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, but Veronica Clark told The Associated Press she filed for divorce last year, had nothing to do with the videography business, and is herself a victim of her estranged husband's scam.
She said her husband sent an email to clients and signed her name to it as a company official to deflect attention from himself.
"I never filmed weddings, booked clients or worked in the store," said Veronica Clark, who added she works as a nurse while raising their two young daughters. "... I have an attorney representing me to get these charges dropped."
Clark said her estranged husband dropped out of law school when he discovered how much money he could make in the videography business.
"Initially, he was not out to scam people. He just kept booking and booking and booking and booking and it got way above him," she said.
Veronica Clark said the volume of wedding footage began to back up and the editors her husband hired proved incompetent.
"It just kept building up, building up. All of a sudden, he had 50 weddings," she said.
Coakley said some couples paid up to $2,000, and in some cases, no videographer showed up to film the weddings. On other occasions the company took video footage, but allegedly wouldn't provide it later. The company's excuses for not providing footage included that Hurricane Irene destroyed footage, according to the attorney general.
Coakley said when some couples posted negative online reviews, the company said they'd hold wedding footage hostage unless the reviews came down. The attorney general also alleged that the company changed names to try to escape bad publicity.
Coakley's office said there's a temporary restraining order in place to keep the defendants from destroying any wedding video footage, and from soliciting or accepting deposits for future videography business.
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