A South Jersey man who operated several fraudulent vacation travel club companies, including one in Egg Harbor Township, is headed to jail.
"The scope of the defendant's fraud and deceit was massive."
On Friday morning, 42-year-old Daryl Turner of Marlton was sentenced to seven years in prison for second-degree theft by deception, after scamming hundreds of people into buying into one of his nine phony travel club companies.
Judge Terrence Cook of the New Jersey Superior Court, said, "The defendant frauded nearly 800 victims of over $2.5 million dollars."
Officials say Turner promised customers free vacations, free airplane tickets, and free cruises; the majority of which were never delivered because they would open and shut back-to-back businesses very quickly, eluding authorities.
The state’s investigation revealed that Turner and Bernstein falsely promised large discounts and benefits to those who bought vacation packages, which typically cost between $2,200 and $6,500. Officials say they knew that the promised discounts and benefits were not available.
Deputy Attorney General, Mark Kurzawa, said, "When victims finally did realize they had been frauded, it was that much harder to track down Mr. Turner."
One of their companies, "Blue Water Gateway", operated for a few months back in 2010 in Egg Harbor Township. An NBC40 news series of reports helped close the club's Scarborough Drive location after uncovering that they were operating without a mercantile license.
Judge Cook said, "Ultimately, this crime is about more than the dollars and cents; it's about destroying the trust of the citizens of the state, and causing skepticism for legitimate business owners."
Turner's wife, 44-year-old Robyn Bernstein, helped run his travel companies and was also sentenced to five years of probation, after also pleading guilty to theft by deception.
Bernstein's defense attorney says her client feels victimized by her husband. Adam Malamut said, "Unfortunately she was the victim of marrying the wrong guy - and as a victim of marrying the wrong guy, she is guilty by association."
Kurzawa said, "The fact is, your honor, the defendant’s entire operation of all of his travel companies was based on a culture of deceit and fraud."
The Division of Criminal Justice initially arrested Turner on theft charges in July
2011. At the time, detectives executed a search warrant at the offices of “Travel
Deals” in Marlton, and seized various assets of Turner and Bernstein, including a
speedboat and several luxury vehicles: a 2011 Range Rover, a 2001 Ferrari, a 2007
Bentley and a 1999 Porsche.
Under their plea agreements, Turner and Bernstein will forfeit their home in Marlton, bank accounts, several luxury cars, and a boat.
Turner and Bernstein will pay restitution in the amount of approximately $2.6 million dollars.
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