Party foul: Kissimmee police say event planner accused of fraud won't be charged
Police say they can't charge man for being bad at business
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Kissimmee police said they investigated an events planner accused of taking more than $100,000 from his clients then skipping town and to the surprise of many of his victims, found he did nothing criminal.
News 6 first reported on the allegations against Max Wasserman in September, when more than two-dozen people said that they wanted to throw wedding receptions, Sweet 16 parties and even a school graduation at his former venue off Highway 192 in Kissimmee.
But now, the building is closed, Wasserman is gone and so is their money.
Rafael Amy said he gave Wasserman $2,000 for his daughter's Sweet 16. Then, over the summer, he learned the party was no longer happening, at least, not at Wasserman's venue.
"The party's in January, and then all of a sudden I get a phone call saying that he left, closed up shop and that he left not just with my money, but there's a whole bunch of people," he said.
Many of the victims also paid in cash because Wasserman offered a steep discount.
"I said, 'OK, I want to save some money,' but now I have no party, no money, no anything," said Istella Ortega, who gave Wasserman $9,000.
In all, 26 people said Wasserman promised them his venue, plus food, decorations and more for their money. But last summer, Wasserman sent out a letter saying the parties are off, because he's since moved out of state and is now filing for bankruptcy.
"Unfortunately, we do feel for the victims, but there's nothing criminal that occurred," Kissimmee Police Department spokeswoman Stacie Miller said.
Police wrote in a letter to all the victims that authorities investigated Wasserman for fraud but because he was operating a business, had a lease for his venue plus contracts with clients, the evidence only suggests he was simply bad at business.
"You have to prove that there was intent," Miller added. "There was no proof that there was intent that he meant to defraud those people."
Wasserman's victims, however, think he should face charges.
"I'm struggling financially, too, but I'm not stealing money from people, planning their parties and leaving town," Amy said.
Police also made victims aware they could try to go to small claims court to get their money although that may cost more than what they lost.
Meanwhile, the party planner, Wasserman, told News 6 he would allow us a video interview Wednesday so he could explain his actions, but later cancelled without an explanation.
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