(EASTON, MD) – A New York woman was arrested and charged with theft in connection with a travel agency scheme in which a church group from Caroline County did not receive a cruise that they had paid for.
The suspect, Carmela Evett Bolden, 52, of Elmsford, New York, is charged with 34 counts of theft of $1,000 to $10,000 and one count of theft scheme of $10,000 to $100,000. The charges stem from a complaint filed on Dec. 7, 2016 to the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division from members of the Greater New Hope Church and Ministries in Preston, Maryland.
The state police investigation determined the church paid Bolden, who owns the travel agency R U Ready To Travel, a total of $34,859, which was divided into monthly installments between December 2015 and September 2016. The money, which was sent each month by a certified check, was supposed to go toward a couples cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines. In all, 17 couples (34 church members) paid Bolden to book the cruise.
Bolden sent an email to a church representative on Aug. 28, 2016 notifying them that she had received the final payment. An examination of Bolden’s and the church’s bank records showed that Bolden had cashed the checks. Bolden told the church representative that there was a problem with their prior reservations and she booked new reservations.
An examination of Norwegian Cruise Lines showed that payments made to Bolden had not been paid toward the reservations. Norwegian Cruise Lines had canceled those reservations due to not receiving any payments toward the cruise. There were also no payments made toward the new reservations booked by Bolden.
The church group contacted Norwegian Cruise Lines directly and booked the trip themselves by paying for it with other church funds and personal money from the pastor himself. An arrest warrant was issued for Bolden on June 20, 2017. Upon her arrest July 6 by Westchester County Police in New York, Bolden was extradited back to Maryland, where she appeared July 13 for her initial appearance before the Caroline County District Court commissioner.
Bolden was released after posting $5,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 10 in Caroline County District Court.
R U Ready To Travel has several prior complaints filed against the company through the Better Business Bureau. Anyone who may have a similar incident to report involving R U Ready To Travel is asked to contact their local state police barrack. A list of the individual barracks can be found on the Maryland State Police website at http://mdsp.maryland.gov.