FROM: Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer   CONTACT PERSON: Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer (408) 792-2997   For release on May 6, 2008   DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY TO MILLION DOLLAR TRAVEL AGENCY SCAM   67-year old Joseph Maloof and 54-year old Ron Hansen both entered guilty pleas in a Santa Clara County courtroom today.  The travel agency owners each pled guilty to 13 felony charges related to the embezzlement of more than one million dollars belonging to their travel agency clients during 2004 and 2005. Hansen also admitted a prior felony “strike” conviction. Maloof owned and operated travel agencies known as JM Travel Selections and ITS International Tours, and Hansen owned and operated a travel agency known as International Grand Tours.   Both defendants are to be sentenced in September, 2008. Maloof faces a maximum of 14 years in prison, and Hansen faces up to 28 years.    Maloof and Hansen received more than one million dollars from customers for travel services that they never provided, and they failed to make refunds as required by California law.  The victims include travel groups making religious pilgrimages, elderly travelers, as well as educational groups of students and teachers.   The case came to the District Attorney’s attention as a result of numerous complaints from travel customers. The case was jointly investigated by the California Attorney General and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.   ###

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