ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WVEC) -- A travel agent convicted of organizing a fake trip to Europe for dozens of high school students was sentenced in court today.
A judge gave Augustine Acheampong a 50-year suspended sentence as long as he pays back restitution in full.
The suspended sentence was part of a plea agreement for 10 felony counts of embezzlement.
The Commonwealth's Attorney said in court Wednesday, the goal was to "make the victims whole again" by having Acheampong return the money.
"I am disappointed that he didn't get any more time but definitely getting our money back is very helpful especially since I'm in college," said victim Hailey Lanford.
Acheampong received $31,590 for the trip he organized and later cancelled. So far, he has returned $22,150 to the families and must pay an additional $9,440 by December 15.
In February 2017, Acheampong entered an Alford plea, meaning he acknowledged there was enough evidence in the case to convict, but does not admit guilt.
"He was a predator preying on children in schools and stealing money from them on purpose and knowing months in advance that there was no way we could go," said parent Kristie Lanford. "That's just evil to me."
The case started in June 2015, when nearly 20 students and parents were signed up to go on a trip to Europe. The trip was organized by travel agent Acheampong. The cost was just over $3,300 per person.
Two days before the trip was scheduled, Acheampong canceled it. None of the families received a refund.
Acheampong must also complete 200 hours of community service within the next year and will be placed on supervised probation for five years.
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