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Interview With Adam Radinsky, Byron Barclay

Aired July 11, 2003 - 19:53   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now, if you get spooked by wedding horror stories, you will not want to watch this next segment. If you're planning a wedding, you may not want to watch this either.
But if you like stories with happy endings, then I guess you will.

Juli Armitage is the kind of wedding photographer you generally try to avoid, the kind with four convictions for grand theft. Yes. She got them by allegedly charging dozens of couples, including the one you're about to see on your screen, an average of about $2,000 each, and then never giving them their pictures, and sometimes never showing up at all.

Now Santa Monica officials are in the process of giving some of those couples their pictures at last.

And we have with us Santa Monica's deputy city attorney, Adam Radinsky, and victim/groom Byron Barclay. We did try to reach Armitage's lawyers for comment. We were unsuccessful with that.

Let me start off, Byron, both of you, thanks for being with us.

Byron, let me start off with you. I mean, you found this alleged photographer on the Internet, which is obviously a great advertisement for the Internet yet again. When did you realize something -- and I guess she came to the wedding, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you -- Everything seemed fine, right?

BYRON BARCLAY, VICTIM OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, we had an engagement session prior to the wedding, and we did have a little bit of trouble getting the photographs back from that. We eventually did get them. And they were quite good, actually, the...

COOPER: And we're seeing a photo of her right there. She looked like a -- I don't know if we can put it back on the screen. But, I mean, she looked like a real photographer. She had a big camera there.

BARCLAY: Yes, I mean, she had a great Web site, and we actually saw a proof album from a previous client the first night we met with her, and the photographs were wonderful. And...

COOPER: So when did you realize, she's taken the pictures, she's gone, when did you realize, Uh-oh, something is wrong? BARCLAY: Well, we had trouble getting her to the wedding site on the day of the wedding. She showed up an hour and 45 minutes late, which caused the whole ceremony to be pushed back, and time was cut short. And she broke down into hysterics during the wedding, so...


COOPER: That's always good. Show up late, break down in hysterics.

BARCLAY: Yes, so we had some qualms about it at that point. And then we were promised proofs within four to six weeks, and at about the four-week mark, we started trying to get ahold of her and were unable to do so. So we left several messages and e-mails and none...

COOPER: She just didn't get back to you.

BARCLAY: No response. I mean, she just basically disappeared. And so that's when we started to worry.

COOPER: And we're looking at some of these photos, which you finally got back.

Now, Adam, Byron is obviously not the only one who's involved in this. There are a lot of people came to you and said, There's a problem.

ADAM RADINSKY, DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY, SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: Yes, when all was said and done, we had 55 couples, actually, in this case. It started with one couple about a year ago who came to us and told a story very similar to Byron's, and we thought, Well, maybe this is just someone who is a bad business person, doesn't have her act together.

But more and more couples started to come to us, and our investigation widened, and...

COOPER: So 50 couples, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I mean, it's extraordinary. Was, would, I mean, is, is it your contention this, this person is just a con?

RADINSKY: Well, she definitely did a lot of things that con artists do. She bait-and-switched a lot of the couples, promised things and then didn't provide them, she tried to con free food and free drinks out of couples, saying she'd forgotten her wallet. She told lie after lie about things she had been doing.

But mostly, she was getting $2,000 to $3,000 from each couple, and showing up, usually, but then not providing the enlargements or the albums.

COOPER: How do you like the photographs, Byron? We're looking at some of them now.

BARCLAY: The ones we got were fairly good. It was the type of photography that we were looking for. It was... COOPER: And your wife is on deployment, she's in Washington state. So, I mean, these photos are important...

BARCLAY: Correct.

COOPER: ... you're separated.

BARCLAY: Yes, she was deployed actually 11 days before our wedding. She was allowed to come home on leave for the wedding and the honeymoon, and then had to go back the next day. so I've actually only seen her four times in the time that we've been married. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: What was it like the first time you saw the photos? Were you just relieved?

BARCLAY: I was relieved that we actually got something. We weren't sure that we would ever get anything out of her, because she had essentially disappeared, and we had no idea how to track her down, and we had no idea where she was, or if the proofs or negatives even existed.

COOPER: So Adam, what happened to her?

RADINSKY: Well, she was finally thrown in jail when she didn't show up at a court hearing during our case. We filed charges against her for grand theft, and while she was in jail, we were finally able to get her attention enough to negotiate for her to give all the stuff to us, and help us identify who's who with all these boxes of negatives, to get them back to the rightful owners, which we were able to do in almost every case.

COOPER: It's amazing how jail gets some people's attention, you know. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it's just a remarkable story, and I'm so glad you got your photographs back, and I know some people didn't get their photos back, but I'm glad everyone -- at least you did. It's a nice, happy ending to the story.

Adam Radinsky and Byron Barclay, thanks for being with us.

RADINSKY: Thank you.

BARCLAY: Thank you.

COOPER: All right.


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