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Bronx Bridal Shop Owner Investigated For Alleged Fraud

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Michelle Mears (Photo/CBS 2)

Michelle Mears (Photo/CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) –  The Westchester District Attorney has launched a criminal investigation of a bridal shop owner following complaints from 34 clients.

CBS 2’S Katherine Brown reports that the brides claim Michelle Mears took their money and never delivered their dresses.

Investigators said Mears had shops in at least seven locations over the past three years – including her latest in the Bronx.

Kristen Romano is among those who said they were hoodwinked by Mears.

“We were out a lot of money…still out a lot of money,” Romano said.

Romano said she ordered dresses for her entire wedding party totaling nearly $2,000.

“We knew we were not going to see those dresses,” Romano said.

Investigators said Mears has gone by several aliases including Lena Garriola, Lee Garriola and Michellina.

Authorities also said Mears may have taken advantage of customers who came to her for dresses over the internet.

State Senator Jeffrey Klein is heading the probe against Mears and said he was contacted Thursday by at least one woman who feels she was taken advantage of by Mears online.

“Whats happening here is much worse than we originally though,” Klein said.

Mears spoke with CBS 2 in July and said she was just getting a bad rap from her clients.

“They may not have liked the fact that they were held to their contract. They may not have liked the fact that I didn’t throw things in free,” Mears said.

CBS 2 reached out to Mears Friday for comment, but she did not return phone calls.

Klein said Mears’ words carried little weight with him.

“I believe these women,” Klein said, “I do not believe Michelle Mears.”

Complaints have also been filed with the Better Business Bureau, the Yonkers Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Attorney General.

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