Defunct wedding photographer sentenced

April 24, 2009 3:57:01 PM PDT
Dozens of brides, jilted by a defunct photographer in South Jersey, now have a bit of justice. "I have nothing. No one found any of my stuff. I will never be able to recreate my day," Alisha Zukowsk Clementon said.

Zukowski, one of many victims of a photographer who never delivered what he promised, paid $2,500 for her 2006 wedding photos and still hasn't received them.

She spoke in court today as one of dozens of victims of wedding photographer Michael Gould of Mt. Ephraim, who was being sentenced after pleading guilty to theft charges.

Prosecutors say as many as 80 brides in the area paid Gould thousands of dollars, but never got their pictures.

Before the 64-year-old was sentenced to the 206 days he's already spent behind bars and 5 years probation, his victims vented.

Lauren Weber Abejuwon shelled out over $4000 for photos Gould failed to deliver.

"Michael Gould destroyed our ability to show photos to our children, let alone their grandchildren. I feel Michael Gould should never be allowed to work as a professional photographer again," Adejuwon said.

'You can steal my pictures and my money. I will get over it, but don't you dare mess with my daughters," bride's father Jeff Mitchell said.

"Mr. Gould was excuse after excuse and victimized these people over and over," assistant prosecutor Andrew McDonald said.

Under questioning from the judge, Gould said his business went bad and he got in over his head.

"Honestly your honor, I did my best. I was trying to get everything done and I had absolutely no intention of taking anything from anybody," Gould said.

Gould's public defender says the flimflamming photographer is now homeless and jobless and must find work so he can repay almost $90,000 in restitution to his victims. As part of his plea deal, he cannot operate a photo business and must also attend AA meetings. Gould has also given up the copyright to any of the photos he took.

"I feel that I was taken advantage of when I met him I believed Michael and I believed he would deliver me a great product for my wedding day," Zukowsk said.

There is still hope for some victims as Burlington County Consumer Affairs has boxes of unclaimed photos, tapes, DVDs, and negatives victims can look at.

Burlington County Consumer Affairs can be reached at 609-265-5054.

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