Police: Man lied to teens, took their graduation trip money
Published 12:03 pm Friday, May 31, 2019
(AP) — A Mississippi man who authorities say took $8,000 and made fake promises to high school seniors about a graduation trip has been charged with fraud.
Humphreys County High School students were stranded in a parking lot waiting for 31-year-old Ladarrius Donte West, who said he had a company called Big Fella Bus Tours. He was supposed to drive them to Miami to board a cruise to the Bahamas, but didn’t show up, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.
Greenwood police arrested West on Tuesday and charged him with defrauding under false pretenses. The newspaper did not report whether he has an attorney. A municipal court judge set bail at $10,000.
Andrea Allen-Rush’s nephew, Preston De-Jon Allen, is a member of the Class of 2019, and she helped raise money for the senior trip. Allen-Rush said the students did most of the work by selling doughnuts, candy bars and fruit snacks.
Allen-Rush said that besides the $8,000 the families gave to West, they lost more than $3,000 for the cruise.
Organizers in Humphreys County decided not to let the students become victims. Allen-Rush said the community came together again and sent 39 students and nine adults to an abbreviated visit to Miami and the beach on the weekend of May 10-12.
“We petitioned so many people inside and outside our community,” she said. “We had a GoFundMe page. The Ladies of Faith sold fish plate dinners. Together they raised nearly $8,000, and the bus company they booked donated, too.”