Aventura tree lot owner provides miracle for Key Biscayne church after losing out on $30k

AVENTURA, Fla. – A Christmas tree lot owner in Aventura is stepping up to bring some Christmas cheer to Key Biscayne.

Key Biscayne’s only Christmas tree lot looks pretty bare this season after the church that runs it believes they were scammed out of over $30,000 when they switched tree brokers after their old tree provider passed away.

Eric Labrador, who runs the Christmas tree operation for Key Biscayne Community Church told Local 10 News’ Cody Weddle that despite the loss, he’s trying to bring the Christmas spirit back before the holidays.

“We just ordered some poinsettias, try to bring up the Christmas spirit--it has been deflated here,” said Labrador.

“My kids and I have been involved since day one,” said Labrador. “To me, I believe that it hurts me more than anybody.”

But do not fear, the holiday cheer will be back in Key Biscayne.

After hearing our story on Local 10 News, a long-time tree lot owner in Aventura decided to take action this season of giving.

Jim Bassi, the owner of Bella Christmas Trees, said that a similar situation happened to his company last year.

“I had a couple of friends of mine send me a text with your newscast and we had a similar situation happen to us last year and we felt that it was something that we wanted to get ahold of the church and see if we could help them out in any way,” he said.

Bassi says he believes the same man in New Jersey scammed him out of his trees and tens of thousands of dollars last year too, which almost destroyed his business.

“I found a guy online in New Jersey who said he was a wholesaler and was wholesaling us Christmas trees, gave him a very large deposit, over 50,000 and my trees didn’t show up,” he said.

In his giving holiday spirit, Bassi decided to donate 75 trees to Key Biscayne and will provide them with another 350 trees essentially at the price he paid from the broker.

“It’s Christmas, ya know, and being the church, I think that they needed some sort of help, so we’re not trying to make a profit off of them,” he said.

Once shipment arrives in Aventura, they will be sent to the Key Biscayne Community Church.

Police are investigating the man in New Jersey.

About the Authors:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.

Ryan Mackey is a Digital Journalist at WPLG. He was born in Long Island, New York, and has lived in Sunrise, Florida since 1994.