The owners of a defunct Bismarck spa have been ordered to pay $275,175 to customers who bought worthless gift cards but it’s unlikely the customers will see the money, according to a statement from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office.
Jill Becker and Brent Voorhees, owners of Spa D’Athena, were also ordered to pay $28,600 in civil penalties and $75,000 in attorney fees, court records show.
The state in a civil lawsuit said Becker and Voorhees continued to sell gift cards even as they made plans to close the business in 2017. They refused to cooperate with investigators and diverted Spa D’Athena assets to pay expenses at a separate business owned by Voorhees and to make Becker’s child support payments, the statement said.
While the lawsuit was pending in Burleigh County, the two moved to Nevada and filed for bankruptcy.
“Unfortunately, because the restitution likely will be discharged in the bankruptcy, it means there is no money for refunds to consumers who purchased worthless Spa D’Athena gift cards,” said Parrell Grossman, director of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection division.
Likewise, South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick said in the order that the two likely can’t or won’t pay attorney fees requested by the state because they’ve filed for bankruptcy.