By Todd Quinones
VINELAND, N.J., (CBS) — A couple’s big day — derailed by a local restaurant that hasn’t paid a big bill.
Vineland City officials indicate at the time the owner of Mori’s restaurant clearly knew he had dire money problems; it appears he still was collecting money from new clients while telling one couple who were planning to have their wedding reception at the restaurant everything was fine.
On the Mori’s restaurant’s website, owner Lou Ferretti claims to serve the finest Italian and Latino food. But there’s one problem.
The city of Vineland locked his doors and shut him down after police indicate he failed to pay more than $18,000 in overdue electric bills.
Kevin Rivera and Christy Linn booked their October 25th wedding reception at Mori’s restaurant on Landis Avenue in Vineland.
Her family put down more than $2,000 for a deposit they say.
“He looked us right in the eye. He told us everything was fine and we had nothing to worry about,” Rivera said.
They’re not the only ones.
“He took the money with a smile on his face and knew that things weren’t good,” Karen Boyd of Vineland said.
Boyd and Wanda Reaves say they gave Ferretti $200 deposit for a family reunion the same week the city shut him down, after officials claim Ferretti defaulted on a payment plan they gave him.
“He knew! That’s crazy,” Boyd said.
“I’m not going to say it’s a crime, but it needs to be investigated,” Reaves said.
Danny Cabrera says he worked at the restaurant as a cook and dishwasher.
He came here looking for three weeks of pay he says Feretti owes him.
To make matters worse, Cabrera believes there could be more victims out there who booked events here.
“I guess he was just grabbing everybody’s money and booking stuff, and he just up and left once the city shut him down,” Cabrera said.
A woman who answered the door at Ferretti’s home in Williamstown had no comment.
People we talked to say Ferretti is not returning their phone calls and it’s not clear if they will get their deposit money back.
Kevin Rivera and Christy Linn say they’ve since been able to find another venue to have their wedding reception after their family paid an $1,800 deposit.