Missouri Scammer Ryan Crowell Spoiled 73 Different Weddings, Says AG Chris Koster

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Talk about breaking wedding promises.

For a whopping total of 73 Missouri couples, what were supposed to be the happiest occasions of their lives soon turned into complete nightmares. That's all thanks to Ryan Crowell, an accused scammer who was ordered yesterday to pay more than $130,000 after messing up so many weddings.

"The actions of Mr. Crowell and his business not only cost many Kansas City area brides and grooms their money, but also the expense and stress of making new plans," Attorney General Chris Koster says in a news release. "His actions marred the wedding days of 73 couples."

How did he scam them?

First, with promises of a historic venue -- a promise he quickly struggled to keep, officials say.

Crowell and a Kansas City company called West Bottoms Hospitality, LLC failed to provide promised wedding services -- or refunds -- to these couples, Koster says. And now, the business and its owner must pay $43,463 in restitution as well as $87,346.38 in penalties and fees for breaking the law.

The Attorney General's office filed suit against the company last February -- and after a trial last month, a Jackson County circuit judge found Crowell had contracted with these 73 couples from September 2010 through April 2011 to rent out the historic Stowe Building for ceremonies. In some cases, he agreed to additional services, like photography, too.

None of them received anything they were promised.

The AG's announcement says:

Crowell promised the couples the Stowe Building would be renovated in time for scheduled weddings and receptions, the first of which was to take place on April 10, 2011. Despite these promises, Crowell failed to apply for the required construction permits. Crowell also failed to take steps necessary to get the 100-year-old warehouse up to code to hold events as planned: the building was not wheelchair accessible, the only passenger elevator was inoperable, and the fire escape did not even reach the ground. The defendants did not inform their consumers of the permitting issues.

Yikes.

Apparently, the city stopped renovations of the site due to "permit deficiencies" and then cancelled all 73 events.

VIA KSHB

The first wedding was supposed to happen less than a week following the cancellation.

And the company never gave back any of the money in deposits and other payments. Koster's office says, "Couples were left scrambling to find other venues and wedding services."

He adds that Crowell and his company are also barred from taking payment for event services in Missouri going forward, including, but not limited to, weddings.

A website that the company may have used appears no longer in operation and Daily RFT could not reach anyone yesterday at a number listed for the business.

Continue for a firsthand account of his scam and for the full news release.

Searching around for Ryan Crowell, we did, however, stumble upon this September 2011 firsthand account on a consumer website called Ripoff Report. Some more complaints here.

Sounds stressful:

Ryan Crowell and any of his alias businesses cannot be trusted. My wife and I contracted with West Bottoms Photography in a package deal along with a venue in the West Bottoms of Kansas City Missouri. The wedding venue closed down, but this guy refused to return our deposit even after he lied to our face, assuring us there'd be "no issues" and our wedding venue was secure. He returned the deposit for the venue, but insisted that "the photography business was still intact, and there's a separate contract". This was a fantastic bait and switch. Promise a great deal on a venue and photography service, then the venue is no more, but guess what? He was savvy enough to make sure we signed two contracts.

I've attempted to take this guy to small claims court, but guess what? Despite his multiple business he can never be found to be served court papers. Even certified mail is returned to sender. Trust me here I'm not the only one to be burned by Kansas Memories or West Bottoms Photography. Ladies, there are plenty of viable wedding photographers in Kansas City, Shawnee, Mission and Overland Park.

I would definitely not trust your important date to Ryan Crowell photography or West Bottoms photography, or whatever iteration he is calling it these days. I would not ever recommend using the Mission Theatre for an event either - he's listed as the CEO there last I checked and also tries to hide his other businesses under this moniker. Check around before hiring this scam artist, West Bottoms Photography is NOT to be trusted with wedding photography and Ryan Crowell is a thief.

Here's Koster's full news release:

Attorney General Koster obtains $130,000 judgment against Kansas City wedding venue for canceled ceremonies

Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster said today that he has obtained a judgment for more than $130,000 against Ryan Ronney Crowell and West Bottoms Hospitality, LLC, for failing to provide wedding services or refunds to 73 couples. The judgment requires the Kansas City business and its owner to pay $43,463.80 in restitution as well as $87,346.38 in penalties and fees for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Koster filed suit against West Bottoms Hospitality and Crowell last February. Following the trial in January, Jackson County Circuit Judge David M. Byrn found that the defendants contracted with 73 couples from at least September 2010 through April 2011 to rent out the historic Stowe Building for wedding ceremonies and to provide related services, including photography. Those services were never provided.

Crowell promised the couples the Stowe Building would be renovated in time for scheduled weddings and receptions, the first of which was to take place on April 10, 2011. Despite these promises, Crowell failed to apply for the required construction permits. Crowell also failed to take steps necessary to get the 100-year-old warehouse up to code to hold events as planned: the building was not wheelchair accessible, the only passenger elevator was inoperable, and the fire escape did not even reach the ground. The defendants did not inform their consumers of the permitting issues. Kansas City stopped renovations due to permit deficiencies, and ultimately canceled all 73 events. The first wedding was set to take place less than a week following the cancellation. The defendants never refunded the consumers the $43,463.80 in collected deposits and other payments. Couples were left scrambling to find other venues and wedding services.

Along with the order to pay $130,810.18, the defendants are also permanently enjoined from "taking payment for and/or providing event services in the state of Missouri, including, but not limited to wedding venue and/or reception services."

"The actions of Mr. Crowell and his business not only cost many Kansas City area brides and grooms their money, but also the expense and stress of making new plans," Koster said. "His actions marred the wedding days of 73 couples. I am pleased the Missouri Attorney General's Office was able to step in to protect consumers and stop this scam."

The Attorney General's Office noted the assistance of the Kansas City Department of City Planning and Development in prosecuting the case.

Here's the suit.

AG Chris Koster

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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