Kansas City wedding photographer convicted of felony charges
A Jackson County, Mo., jury found a local wedding photographer highlighted in Angie’s List Magazine’s Worst Contractors edition guilty of four counts of stealing by deceit and other felonies on Sept. 6, according to the Missouri attorney general’s office and Jackson County (Mo.) Circuit Court records.
Mario Antoine, a 2011 Angie’s List Magazine Worst Contractor, took thousands of dollars in advance payments from Kansas City-area couples to photograph their weddings and provide other services, such as limousines and DJs, but either failed to show up or failed to provide photographs afterward, records and the attorney general say. He was convicted of four counts of stealing by deceit, all Class C felonies, and five counts of unlawful merchandising practices, all Class D felonies, according to court documents.
In a small claims lawsuit filed in October 2010, Blue Springs, Mo. resident Courtney Pace said she paid Antoine $1,800 in advance to photograph her wedding, but he never showed up. “It was devastating,” Pace told Angie’s List Magazine at the time. “It just made my wedding day more of a scramble. I couldn’t enjoy it.”
In an email to Angie’s List Magazine, Antoine said Pace violated the terms of her contract, but didn’t specify what the violations were.
Pace’s suit was dismissed in January when Antoine couldn’t be served court documents, but Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster represented six other brides in the criminal case, which was filed in November 2012, court records say.
Jurors recommended that Antoine, 30, serve 45 days in prison on each count and pay a fine, the attorney general says. Antoine faces up to $20,000 in fines on each count. “[We] will do everything we can to get the victims’ money returned to them,” says attorney general spokeswoman Nanci Gonder.” Antoine is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 25.