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Travel Agent Pleads Guilty to Taking $80,000 From Clients

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YOUNGSVILLE — Garner travel agent Kelly Kirk wassentenced Tuesday to one year in prison and five years' probation afterpleading guilty to charges that she bilked 86 clients out of more than$80,000.

Kirk apologized to her victims in Wake Superior Court, saying she had used the money to pay the IRS, which she owed$28,000. In addition to the prison sentence, a judge gave Kirk five years to pay $50,000 restitution to her clients.

"What I did was wrong," Kirk said. "Most of these people were goodfriends of mine. We were coming back... We were borrowing the money to getout of this bind."

Questions arose when Kirk could not be reached by phone and her officeremained closed for days, its door festooned with notesfrom customers imploring her for their tickets or for refunds. Shesubsequently was found in West Virginia.

Kirk was charged with 21 counts of obtaining property byfalse pretense.

One of Kirk's victims was Lillian Logan, who lost $1,700 when shebooked atrip through Kirk's agency, Garner Travel. It was the first time thatLogan and her husband had planned to take a vacation in the 25 years thatthey had been married.

"I called American and Midway, and there were no reservations in eitherof our names," Logan told WRAL'sAmandaLamboutside court.

Some victims said they felt betrayed by Kirk.

Tim Hammond, another client, said there are some things that hurt morethan loss of money.

Some of Kirk's other former clients said they were satisfied with theoutcome of this case.

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