Monday, May 7, 2012
Help Me Howard: Keyed and No Restitution
Has anyone ever destroyed your property- how about this, you have video of an angry person keying your car, the police arrest her, she agrees to pay resitution or face jail and then. She doesn't pay you at all then what happens. Nothing. Which is why one woman called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Alicia Balmelli, Where's the Restitution: "Twinkle, twinkle bridal jewelry and accessories."
People told Alicia she was crazy to start a business in a recession. Good thing she didn't listen to them.
Alicia Balmelli: "This is a fantasy come true, I love what I do."
Alicia's business is doing well in part because of her location on Miracle Mile in the Gables.
Alicia Balmelli: "Lets take this one out becuase it was your first choice."
But her great location has also created a grinding headache.
Alicia Balmelli: "My car was parked right here, so she pulled in right behind me and just stayed there."
A highrise is being built on an old parking lot behind Alicia's store so guess where people park now.
Alicia Balmelli: "These parking spaces belong to us."
When a woman blocked her car in December, apparently not seeing the nine 'no parking signs', Alicia gave her an hour to come back. When she didn't, Alicia called a tow truck. Another hour passed and the woman returned.
Alicia Balmelli: "She had a temper tantrum, was stomping her feet."
Some construction workers from this building told the woman Alicia had her car towed. So caught on camera. Trying to act non-chalant, the young lady went to work.
Alicia Balmelli: "She got a key, circled the car and made several deep gashes around the car."
Alicia was dealing with customers inside the store and didn't know the woman was keying the driver's side, then back of her car and down the passenger side while chatting on the phone.
Alicia Balmelli: "It's scary."
According to this police report, the woman then cracked a window at the back of Alicia's store before trying to come in front door.
Alicia Balmelli: "And she continued to scream and yell and yell."
The police were called and later arrested the woman in the video named Leslie Quesada.
Alicia Balmelli: "They charged her with a felony because the damages were over $3,000."
In February, Quesada agreed to what's called a pre-trial diversion program to avoid a possible jail sentence. In other words, a letter of apology, community service, attending anger management classes and resitution paying Alicia $3,000 at $250 a month.
Alicia Balmelli: "She will have to present a check and you will get paid.
How many checks have you gotten. None.
Quesada was under the supervision of a private organization called the Advocate Program that is paid to make sure the suspect repays the victim. Alicia called them to let them know Quesada was not following the court order.
Alicia Balmelli: "I have been calling them every day for the past two weeks. I have left one message every day."
Alicia says noone from the advocate program returned her calls.
She did get the letter of apology from Quesada with her name spelled wrong.
But the restitution never came and neither did the promise of what would happen if Quesada ignored the agreement to pay for the damage.
Alicia Balmelli: "If she failed to make one payment this would go to trial we would seek jail time."
Not surprisingly, Alicia has lost faith in the system that she thought would punish the accused and protect the victim.
Alicia Balmelli: "In a way I am cynical a little defeated at this point so thats why I reached out to you."
Well Howard, can you agree to pay restitution and then not do it?
Howard Finkelstein: "No, if you don't pay you, you go back to court where a judge can send you to jail if you are convicted. However, if that happens the chances of restitution being paid are slim so sometimes it's better for a victim to let the advocate program find a way to get the money even if it takes longer."
I called the state attorneys office. They told me they had also called the advocate program about Quesada not paying and did not get their calls returned.
I then got in touch with the head of the Advocate Program who told me his employee said he had not received the calls from Alicia and the state attorney.
He said that Quesada was unemployed and they were waiting for her to get a tax return to start paying restitution. He said if they did notify the court Quesada was not paying and she went to trial, that Alicia would not get her restitution.
I then told them Alicia had given up on getting restitution and wanted Quesda to go to trial.
The next day I was told Quesada then brought in $500 to catch up in her restitution.
Alicia Balmelli: "I am happy I got my first two checks."
Alicia is glad to finally be getting resitution and happy about something else.
Alicia Balmelli: "Ever since Patrick started making phone calls my calls have been returned promptly. Everyone is willing to help me."
Patrick Fraser: "When I called Leslie Quesada about the restitution she told me she didn't know what I was talking about. Two attorneys called on her behalf- a civil attorney called our questions about Quesada not paying restitution a pathetic little story. Her criminal attorney acted like an adult. He said these are hard times and Quesada was doing the best she can do."
Someone parked a problem in your life? Ready to tow it away? Contact us for some payback. We don't pay restitution, but we recessitate solutions.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)