Jackson wedding planner's legal woes multiply in credit card fraud case

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The legal problems of a Jackson wedding planner charged with multiple credit card fraud felonies are being compounded by lawsuits to recover deposits and a divorce action, all filed within the last month.

Michael J. Erzfeld, 40, ran Custom Events until his arrest in November. Erzfeld on Monday waived his preliminary hearing, where prosecutors would have had to present evidence showing why they believed Erzfeld is guilty. Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp ordered Erzfeld to return to court Jan. 26 for arraignment.

Erzfeld is accused of making purchases with credit card information obtained while he operated real estate classes. Investigators with the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department have said Erzfeld would order goods either on the telephone or online and have the items delivered to a building or home that was not occupied.

When he was arrested, Erzfeld faced a single count of fraud. Four additional charges were filed Dec. 18.

In sworn statements from sheriff's deputy Heather VanGennip, Erzfeld is accused of:

* Purchasing $1,132 worth of wine from Schug Carneros Estate Winery in California that was delivered to Deerfield Lodge in Jackson. A FedEx driver took down Erzfeld's license plate number after finding Erzfeld waiting outside the locked lodge for the delivery.

* Purchasing a $3,020 champagne cooler from LaLique Boutique that was delivered to an unoccupied home on Ripken Way.

* Purchasing $2,334 worth of merchandise from Herend Store, a retailer of expensive decorative items.

* Purchasing a $782 porcelain elephant from Herend Store.

Along with the charges for credit card fraud, Erzfeld faces another felony charge of passing a bad check. That charge was filed Dec. 31, and he is scheduled to be in front of Kamp again Jan. 29 for an initial arraignment.

Since Erzfeld was originally charged in the case, six customers of Custom Events have filed lawsuits seeking to recover money paid for event planning. Five of the cases are filed in small claims court.

In addition, Erzfeld's wife, Becky Erzfeld, has filed for a divorce and for an order of protection. Becky Erzfeld has been named in some of the lawsuits from customers of the event planning business.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

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