State to hold local travel agency in contempt

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>>

  • Unresolved bank errors? Help is on the way

    Unresolved bank errors? Help is on the way

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:11 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:11:30 GMT
    Taking on a big bank, even over something like a minor bank error, can be maddening. You feel like no one is listening. It's like being trapped in a maze you can't get out of, but somebody is noticing how frustrating that can be.
    Taking on a big bank, even over something like a minor bank error, can be maddening. You feel like no one is listening. It's like being trapped in a maze you can't get out of, but somebody is noticing how frustrating that can be.
  • I-Team Investigation

    Former Douglas Co. D.A. office manager indicted

    Former Douglas Co. D.A. office manager indicted

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:24 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:24:49 GMT
    There are major new developments today in the state investigation of the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Tammy Agan, the former office manager, has been indicted on 58 counts of theft and making false statements.
    There are major new developments today in the state investigation of the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Tammy Agan, the former office manager, has been indicted on 58 counts of theft and making false statements.
  • Whistleblower Seeks Sanctions Against Attorney General's Office

    Whistleblower Seeks Sanctions Against Attorney General's Office

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:59:29 GMT
    In a letter, obtained exclusively by the Fox 5 I-Team, former Ethics director Stacey Kalberman's plans to seek sanctions against the state Attorney General's office.
    More controversy involving the State Ethics Commission. In a letter, obtained exclusively by the Fox 5 I-Team, former Ethics director Stacey Kalberman's plans to seek sanctions against the state Attorney General's office.
  • 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.

  • Sandy Springs Park presents "Touching" art display

    Sandy Springs Park presents "Touching" art display

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:57 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:57:44 GMT
    For many area students and teachers, school starts next week.  So this week on Good Day Atlanta, we're checking out "cool" spots to
    For many area students and teachers, school starts next week. So this week on Good Day Atlanta, we're checking out "cool" spots to enjoy those last few days of summer.
  • Pet 'matchmaking' service increases adoptions

    Pet 'matchmaking' service increases adoptions

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:13 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:13:37 GMT
    You've probably heard of a match-making service that helps people find their soul mates.But you may not know that there's a nonprofit in Atlanta that offers a similar service....for people to find....the perfect pet.
    You've probably heard of a match-making service that helps people find their soul mates.But you may not know that there's a nonprofit in Atlanta that offers a similar service....for people to find....the perfect pet.
Powered by WorldNow

4739 NW 53rd Avenue, Sutie B
Gainesville, FL 32653

Phone: (352) 371-0051

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