Woman accused of travel agency scam changes mind, wants trial

Ligaya Baldugo
Ligaya Baldugo

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A woman accused of running a travel agency scam that left more than four dozen people victimized has changed her mind about giving up her court fight and now wants to go to trial.

Ligaya Baldugo is charged with 49 counts of second-degree theft for her 49 alleged victims. The former operator of Coloma's Travel Service in Chinatown is accused of accepting payments to arrange customers' travel to the Philippines, but not delivering on their airline tickets as promised.

Prosecutors say she bilked her clients out of about $130,000.

Baldugo was scheduled to change her "not guilty" plea and accept responsibility at a hearing before Circuit Judge Colette Garibaldi Wednesday morning. However, the plan changed.

"I believe it will be in Ms. Baldugo's best interest at this time to ask the court for a firm trial date," Donald Wilkerson, defense attorney, said.

"You know, if the defendant wants a trial, we're not going to object to her right to having a trial," Chris Van Marter, deputy prosecutor, said.

Second-degree theft is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

"The bottom line is there's not going to be any plea bargaining," Van Marter said. "So she's either going to have to go to trial on whatever the date the court gives her -- and it should be everyone's understanding that that won't be postponed -- or she'll plead."

The judge set the trial for June.

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