FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A judge went to great lengths in court Wednesday to determine if a man accused of defrauding unsuspecting vacationers actually paid them back.
Robert Parker faces five counts of grand theft.
Detectives said Parker never delivered on his vacation promises, but he kept more than $180,000 from the people he sold on the idea of cruising
"They bought airline tickets, they bought all the things they needed to do, to take off work, to go on these cruises, and the problem was Royal Caribbean never knew of Mr. Parker," Judge John Hurley said.
Parker is accused of ripping off customers who booked cruises through his Oakland Park-based business, Tropical Escape Tours.
What those people apparently didn't know is that Parker has been in trouble with the law in the past. Even his travel company had an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
In court, his wife of three years tried to convince the judge of her husband's good intentions.
"I know that they've all been paid back," she told Hurley.
"How do you know they've all been paid back?" Hurley asked.
"Because my husband told me that they have," she replied.
"Because your husband told you that?" Hurley quipped.
Then Hurley picked up the phone to call one of the alleged victims in court.
"I've got the telephone numbers right here of a few of the victims," Hurley told Parker. "Do you have a problem if I call them up right now and ask them if they got their money back?"
"No," Parker replied. "No problem at all."
That phone conversation was private, but Parker still remains in jail.
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