Two wedding photographers that the 10News Troubleshooter warned consumers about three years ago faced a judge Wednesday morning, 10News reported.
Roddy Ruvalcaba, a former bridal photography studio owner who took wedding pictures he never delivered and stole deposits for wedding dresses, pleaded guilty Wednesday to six charges and was ordered to repay nearly $50,000.
Ruvalcaba, who now lives in Sacramento, will be sentenced to 270 days in custody in a work furlough program as long as he pays $49,267 by May 18 to the 61 couples he victimized.
The defendant will have to serve an additional 90 days in custody if the restitution is not paid in full by his May 23 custody report date, said Deputy City Attorney Cindy Davis.
Ruvalcaba pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of grand theft and two counts of false advertising, along with one count of vandalism for jumping up and down on a neighbor's car, Davis said.
As a result of his guilty pleas, Ruvalcaba is prohibited from working in the wedding photography or related businesses, the prosecutor said.
He was also ordered to return all wedding gowns and film -- developed or undeveloped -- to his victims.
The defendant's wife, Ronaele, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to grand theft. She will get 90 days in custody if full restitution is not made by May, Davis said.
She said the couple committed their crimes in 2002 but left San Diego suddenly for Los Angeles, then Sacramento.
"They shuttered their doors and left in the middle of the night," Davis said outside court.
Brides and grooms were literally banging on the doors of Ruvalcaba's business because they had not gotten what they paid for, the prosecutor said.
"It's pretty phenomenal," the prosecutor said of the unusual case.
A high school classmate looking to contact Ronaele Ruvalcaba for their 10-year reunion saw her photo on the city attorney's Web site for "Most Wanted" people and notified authorities, the prosecutor said.
Davis, who heads the city attorney's Consumer and Environmental Unit, urged consumers to get references on wedding photographers before hiring them.
People should not rely on beautiful brochures to make their decision on who will take photos at their wedding, the prosecutor said.
Ruvalcaba formerly owned Pacific Beach Portraits and Serafino Bridal.
"He did run a legitimate business fr a number of years," Davis said.
The defendant was not present for the guilty pleas, which were entered by his attorney, Timothy Richardson, in a hearing before Commissioner Robert C. Rice.
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