May 4, 2012
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster filed suit today against a Utah-based travel business to recover the $360,000 the business took from the Willard Band to book a summer trip to Hawaii for the band.
Koster also obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting Calliope Saaga and his business, Present America Tours, LLC from conducting business in the state of Missouri and from advertising or selling travel services. In addition to ordering the restrictions requested by Koster, Greene County Judge Mark Powell also ordered that certain bank accounts in his name be frozen. Koster is also seeking civil penalties for the violations.
Koster lawsuit alleges that the Willard Band Boosters wired the money to Saaga and Present America Tours, LLC, between February 2011 and January 2012. Saaga agreed to make all travel arrangements for the band, including airfare, hotel, meals, tours and travel insurance, and to provide band representatives with complete schedules for their trip by the end of January. When the band had not received the schedules as promised, school officials tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to reach Saaga. Saaga finally contacted the school in April, but did not provide the trip itinerary or proof that the trip was booked.
The restraining order, which will last until at least May 10, 2012, also prohibits the defendants from destroying any documents related to the sale of travel services over the past two years. There will be a hearing May 10 to extend the time the restrictions will be kept in place.
“Willard band members and their families worked hard to raise a great deal of money for this trip of a lifetime,” Koster said. “My office will do all we can to try to get the money back for these kids.”