Pair accused of stealing cash from dance parents appear in court - WKRN News 2

Pair accused of stealing cash from dance parents appear in court

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FRANKLIN, Tenn. -

A couple accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from 55 Williamson County dance families, including country music star Trace Adkins, appeared in court Monday for their arraignment.

All of the families are part of the Anne Carroll School of Dance in Franklin and allege Melanie and John Swoap took money for a trip that did not come together as promised.

The alleged victims reported they paid the pair up front money for a trip to Disney World.

"The dance studio got down there based on a trip and when they got down there, there were no arrangements made when they arrived," DA Kim Helper explained.

During their court appearance, John Swoap asked the judge for additional time to secure an attorney to handle the case.

"I was advised that I could ask for possibly up to four weeks to get that done," he said

Nashville's News 2 Investigates spoke with John Swoap following he and his wife's court appearance.

According to Swoap, he and his wife have refunded as much as $36,000 to the dance families.

He claims the money has been refunded through PayPal.

"We do maintain our innocence and we have made agreements to pay families back," Swoap said. "A large sum of money has already been refunded to these individuals."

Nashville's News 2 Investigates spoke with Charlie Funk of another travel agency. Funk said he  was not familiar with the Swoaps' case, but said it is always important for travelers to check out the travel agency they are working with.  

"If the agency insists or requires that payment be made by cash or check or through PayPal or a credit card that the travel company processes, that's a big warning signal. Keep your street smart antenna turned up," he advised.

Funk also added it is important to make sure a travel agency is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Nashville's News 2 Investigates has learned John Swoap has previous charges of worthless checks, probation violation, among others.

In the most recent indictment, his is alleged to have cased the dance parents' checks on more than one occasion.

Victims have since refused to speak on camera regarding the case.

The Swoaps are scheduled to appear in court on October 7.

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