Local News

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

Posted January 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Garner travel agent Kelly Kirk was sentenced Tuesday to one year in prison and five years' probation after pleading 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 good friends of mine. We were coming back... We were borrowing the money to get out of this bind."

Questions arose when Kirk could not be reached by phone and her office remained closed for days, its door festooned with notes from customers imploring her for their tickets or for refunds. She subsequently was found in West Virginia.

Kirk was charged with 21 counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

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

"I called American and Midway, and there were no reservations in either of our names," Logan told WRAL'sAmanda Lamboutside court.

Some victims said they felt betrayed by Kirk.

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

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