A Harvey woman has been charged by Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office with felony theft after she sold 2018 Essence Festival ticket packages to 75 customers nationwide but didn’t deliver on many of the hotels, party passes and concert tickets she took money for, prosecutors said.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office estimates that Nakesia Washington, 41, stole more than $100,000 from customers through Marrero-based OBL Travel, and the bill of information filed by the DA’s Office on Tuesday lists 75 victims.
Washington pleaded not guilty before a 24th Judicial District Court commissioner on Tuesday. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Her attorney could not be reached for comment.
JPSO spokesman Jason Rivarde said investigators found Washington provided some of the elements of the packages she sold for the three-day festival in early July but came up short repeatedly.
Rivarde said some customers purchased 20 hotel rooms, only to get here and find out there were only a fraction of that number waiting for them, while others didn’t get any. He said passes purporting to be for parties in town related to Essence Fest were bogus, and tickets to the concerts themselves often did not materialize.
He said the JPSO has been in contact with people "nationwide, from Las Vegas to Philadelphia," who say they were cheated.
Washington was arrested in August after people began calling the JPSO to complain they had spent thousands of dollars on packages that didn’t materialize. A Nashville-area travel agent told nola.com that she lost more than $31,000 booking a trip for 25 women through Washington.
The case was allotted to Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
Rivarde said anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by the scam should contact the JPSO’s economic crimes division at (504) 364-5300.