State to hold local travel agency in contempt - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

FOX 5 I-Team

State to hold local travel agency in contempt

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA, Ga. -

The state is asking a judge to hold a local travel agency in contempt of court for taking clients' money but not providing the trips or returning that cash. This is a story the I-Team has followed for months.

RELATED STORY: I-Team: Travel agent dashes Girl Scouts' dreams of Disney

In this latest edition, a group of ladies wanted to take a trip to the Holy Land. They couldn't afford the real deal, so they decided to board a bus to what they considered the next best thing -- The Holy Land Experience in Florida.

"I feel like he just ripped us off. Took advantage of us old ladies, ya know? Just took our money which ain't right," said Mamie Green.

But this group of church ladies fought back. Many of them get together for their weekly "Hour of Power" and tell the state they feel shorted by a man who took their money then for months disappeared.

Take a look at this: Others have complained to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection that Benton Group Travel cancels paid-for trips then pockets the money.

Minniett Westbrook laughed, "Well, ya know, some people need Jesus."

They are upbeat but have also been determined to get their money back. They'll tell you they were singing the praises of this trip when they saw Benton Group Travel's brochure about an affordable get-away to Florida's Holy Land Experience resort. They liked the sound of it.

"To me, it was a wonderful experience not being able to go to the real Holy Land," added Minniett Westbrook.

And they liked the price of it. Receipts show last summer they started paying installments for the $225 October trip.

Some were paid up: $225 here, $225 there. Others were close coughing up $125. But Minniett Westbrook fortunately stopped her final payment after she saw the I-Team's September story on Benton Group Travel about Girl Scouts.

Yes, Girl Scouts. A Forsyth Girl Scouts' troop saved their fundraising money for a trip to Disney World. Court documents filed by Consumer Protection show the Girl Scouts paid Benton Group Travel more than $6,700.

A troop mom told us in September they got to Florida, but they never made it to the Magic Kingdom.

Adrienne Mays, "He was like, ‘Uh, I forgot the tickets'. He forgot the tickets. At home. In Atlanta."

Yep, they turned around, she says, and went back home with no Disney memories.

Ms. Westbrook saw the report then called Lee Benton who owns the travel agency.

"He told me not to worry about that. That it was not true. It was a mistake," Minnitte Westbrook said.

A few days later - September 27th - the group got a letter that their trip to Florida's Holy Land Experience was canceled.

The letter indicated the women would receive a full refund. Yes, yes, it said full refund.  And that was clear in 30 days. It's passed. It's into three or four months," remembered Florene Williams another paid-up member who wanted to take the trip.

But suddenly, after the I-Team stopped by the church, something happened. Refunds started trickling in.

Someone with Benton Travel emailed us with a list of ladies they say they intend to refund. Most women say, yep, they got it. A few say they're still waiting.

But state regulators are still pushing ahead with their motion they filed to hold Lee Benton and his company in contempt of court.

The I-Team tried tracking him down to talk about the mounting complaints, but he won't answer us. But the ladies, retired and with time on their hands, plan to continue to hold Benton Group Travel accountable.

Mamie Green said, "It ain't because we didn't try."

The state says Lee Benton has a Feb. 10 court date.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • 3 easy options for checking your credit score

    3 easy options for checking your credit score

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:47 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:47:59 GMT
    Everybody is entitled to a once-a-year free credit report. But, it's always been a little confusing because if you wanted your credit score that goes with it then you had to pay. There are options out there.
    Everybody is entitled to a once-a-year free credit report. But, it's always been a little confusing because if you wanted your credit score that goes with it then you had to pay. There are options out there.
  • Dr. Commander cries on witness stand

    Dr. Commander cries on witness stand

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:12 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:12:43 GMT
    The man who claims to have thousands of Hindu followers around the world took the witness stand in his federal money laundering trial and broke down in tears.
    The man who claims to have thousands of Hindu followers around the world took the witness stand in his federal money laundering trial and broke down in tears.
  • Developer: Kenerly never asked for bribe

    Developer: Kenerly never asked for bribe

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 10:18 PM EDT2014-08-21 02:18:28 GMT
    Prosecutors considered him their key witness, a longtime Gwinnett developer given immunity to spill what he knew about corruption inside county government. David Jenkins testified before a Gwinnett grand jury in 2010. He also met multiple times with prosecutors. Those interviews were videotaped. Four years later, prosecutors agreed to a no contest plea bargain with former commissioner Kevin Kenerly on one count of bribery. He will serve 10 years on probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
    Prosecutors considered him their key witness, a longtime Gwinnett developer given immunity to spill what he knew about corruption inside county government. David Jenkins testified before a Gwinnett grand jury in 2010. He also met multiple times with prosecutors. Those interviews were videotaped. Four years later, prosecutors agreed to a no contest plea bargain with former commissioner Kevin Kenerly on one count of bribery. He will serve 10 years on probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • Good Day Atlanta

    Pike Nurseries: Gardening in small spaces

    Pike Nurseries: Gardening in small spaces

    Friday, August 22 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-08-22 13:00:20 GMT
    Sometimes less can be more! A small space shouldn't limit your garden or your imagination—hanging baskets, containers, window boxes, espaliered fruit trees….they're all great ways to made a big gardening impact – even on the most limited high rise balcony!
    Sometimes less can be more! A small space shouldn't limit your garden or your imagination—hanging baskets, containers, window boxes, espaliered fruit trees….they're all great ways to made a big gardening impact – even on the most limited high rise balcony!
  • Kennesaw celebrates BBQ festival

    Kennesaw celebrates BBQ festival

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:52 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:52:25 GMT
    Don't worry...that incredible aroma of smoke-cooked BBQ isn't just in your imagination. It's coming from Kennesaw, where the grills are fired up for an annual tradition.
    Don't worry...that incredible aroma of smoke-cooked BBQ isn't just in your imagination. It's coming from Kennesaw, where the grills are fired up for an annual tradition.
Powered by WorldNow

KTTV FOX 11
1999 S. Bundy Dr.
Los Angeles CA 90025

Main: (310) 584-2000
News Tips? (310) 584-2025

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices