A Key West wedding planner was jailed last week after police say she took nearly $38,000 of her clients' money without lifting a finger on their upcoming nuptials.
Kathryn Bentley, 36, is facing felony charges of fraud after two couples called the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in January accusing the wedding planner of swindling them via credit card and check payments.
Bentley, of Kate Bentley Events, was arrested Tuesday evening and faces two felony counts of grand theft and two felony counts of fraud. She was released within about two hours Tuesday after posting $40,000 bond.
David McAlpine and Jennifer Cohen hired Bentley in August to plan their February wedding, according to detectives, after finding her name on the website of the luxury Islander Resort in Islamorada.
The couple gave Bentley an initial deposit of $4,000 and by December 2015 had paid her $22,754, according to arrest reports.
But by January, Bentley had stopped taking the couple's calls, texts or e-mails so they called police.
Islander executives told deputies Bentley was not an employee of the resort but had been brought in by previous management to "enhance their wedding business."
The resort ended its relationship with her after hearing several complaints she was not following through with contracts, Islander General Manager Scott Simons told detectives.
A second couple, Jake Pinder and Melinda Martina, struck a contract with Bentley last Sept. 15 for a November wedding but noticed Bentley was charging them for payments earlier than scheduled.
They say Bentley defrauded them of $15,878.
The Islander made sure the couple's wedding went as planned and in December, Martina demanded a full refund from Bentley, who said she was about to suggest the same thing.
"I feel awful for the lack of professionalism on my part and you have every right to fire me," Bentley wrote in an e-mail Dec. 7.
"No refund was ever made," Deputy Michael Duggan wrote in his report.