Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Carmel on the Case: The Party is Over
The party's over for a South Florida party planner. She's in state prison tonight after first being exposed in a 7News investigation. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is back on the case.
Judge Yvonne Colodny: "So Ms. Nuñez, at this time the court will remand you into custody.
Nuñez pleaded guilty to a slew of felony charges including two counts of organized scheme to defraud and 12 counts of grand theft.
Nuñez's next stop is state prison.
Her crimes began with promises of parties.
Nuñez's company was called Dream Stages but special occasions turned into anything but a dream for her victims.
Andres Hernandez: "Just a nightmare, just a nightmare."
It was 2007 when 7News first exposed Nuñez in connection with her party planning business.
Melba Gonzalez was one of several customers who claimed they paid Nuñez to handle important events. But Nuñez never paid for the venue where the parties were supposed to take place.
Melba Gonzalez: "If I did not pay until 5 p.m. which I only had like 25 minutes, then my party was going to get canceled. I had to pay $13,000 over the phone. Money that I had already paid."
Marilyn Capone says she paid $6,000 for her daughter's 15th birthday party.
Carmel Cafiero: "And what did you get for that money?"
Marilyn Capone: "Nothing. Nothing."
Customer after customer told us similar stories.
Andres Hernandez: "I really have to get a second mortgage on my house to do this party you know."
And they told us they were not able to get refunds from Nuñez.
Eliso Ruiz: "I contacted her, it was lies after lies."
Ana Nuñez's husband pulled his shirt over his head and she hid under a jacket a few months later after a court appearance.
7News producer: "What did you do with the money?"
The party planning investigation led to other charges.
As a result Nuñez was accused of theft and fraud in connection with mortgage and investment deals.
On this day, she faced sentencing for all three of her cases.
Judge Yvonne Colodny: "Adjudication three years in state prison with all credit time served, followed by five years of probation with the special condition of restitution."
She could have faced a 30 year sentence, but Nuñez cut a deal. She entered a guilty plea and promised to pay back $105,000 to her victims.
The prosecutor says, if she does not pay up, it could cost Nuñez her freedom again.
Sophiea Bailey: "Part of her probation is that she agrees that she has the ability to pay, and if she doesn't she's going to have to face a judge and explain why she's not paying."
But those in line to get money back when Nuñez gets out are not convinced they'll ever see a dime.
Andres Hernandez: "I don't want to sound like negative, but I don't think so.
Melba Gonzalez: "Hopefully one day we will get our money back, but what we are not going to get back is all those bad moments, all the frustrations that we had to go through."
And while they wait for those restitution payments, Nuñez's victims no doubt will take some comfort in knowing tonight the party planner is in the slammer.
Carmel Cafiero 7News.
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