Couples Allege Wedding Photo Scam On Long Island

ST. JAMES, NY (WCBS 880) – The honeymoon is long over, but many Long Island newlyweds are still waiting to see the photos and videos of their big day.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On The Story

On Sept. 9, 2007, Danielle Rella was a beautiful smiling bride but after dealing with photographer Gary Leli, whose business operated out of St. James, she is not smiling anymore.

Rella told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall that after paying him over $4,000, she never received her wedding video, and it took over two years to receive a few photos.

“I never thought it was going to be this bad, and because I referred so many brides to him I thought he would at least do the right thing by us,” said Rella on Tuesday. “He has all of his assets in his wife’s name and all the people I talked to who won their lawsuits successfully, none of them have recovered anything in terms of money.”

Rella is not alone.

Julianna Mercaldi said she paid Leli nearly $7,000 and almost five years later she is still waiting for the video.

“My husband’s brother was just diagnosed with M.S. He was the best man. He gave such a beautiful speech,” said Mercaldi. “We have family members during the holidays wanting to see the video.”

The photographer did not return Hall’s call for comment.

What do you have to say about the story? Share your comments below!

  • Married In NY

    1. I don’t thinkn any of paid the vendor in full. He is still owed a balance. But he can’t produce the final product, so he is not receiving the balance. He is the ultimate scam artist. He takes cash payments and now says he has no money to pay the vendors. I have this in email. His assets are not in his name so there is nothing to get a judgement from. The wedding site that he was a paying vendor removed all negative comments about him.

    THere is absolutely no justification that this man can not get our videos and albums. We paid him money for our services. He has either spent all the money, gambled the money, or his hiding the money.

    We’ll get him some way and make sure he loses any sort of positive reputation he has.

  • A guy

    @CT Native: Not to make excuses for the guy, because I won’t, but do you really mean you shouldn’t pay a dime for anything, ever, before the date of service? You shouldn’t pay your hall, ceremony site, florist, and limo up front?

  • james

    He gives a bad name for the industry, most photographers/videographers do an excellent job and deliver on time.

  • Angry Bride

    As quoted in another story Gary Leli saysDecisions keep changing and that is why brides do not have their albums? He is supposed to be the professional here! A lot of us thought he had everything he needed. Never once did he contact us to say, hey, you are missing this or that. He just hoped that we would go away and never ask for our stuff. When there are this number of couples upset, how long does it take to realize that the problem is maybe not us, but you! Scam artist! Isn’t he tired of going to court on a regular basis? Wouldn’t it just be easier to do what you promise in the first place? And I’m sorry, but that is no answer about the missing videos. If we hired Gary it is his responsibility to make sure we get our videos and to go to bat for us with this video guy. And did he even comment on dodging/screening people’s phone calls, not returning emails, and sending threatening messages to anyone who speaks out against him? So disappointing.

  • Blueeyes_two

    If there are any other brides that have dealt with Gary Leli and need to contact WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall on this Photographer with a similar story about him, this is her e-mail address:

  • CT Native

    Never pay the vendor in full before they deliver the finished product!!!! This is just common sense.

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