CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An Old Brooklyn winery owner is facing criminal charges after a couple says he ripped them off. The couple was supposed to have their wedding at his venue, and they put down thousands in a deposit for the big day, but it all fell through.
When Muneera Yates and Matthew Novak walked into the Old Brooklyn Winery, they were sure they had found the wedding venue of their dreams.
“From the moment we got there we fell in love with it,” Yates said. “I could just picture myself that day while we were there having our wedding.”
They paid the owner, Anthony Nunes, around $2,500 to have their wedding at the winery in September of 2020, but that all fell apart when they learned the winery did not have the permits needed to host events. So, they asked him for their money back.
“I was anxious, stressed, crying to my mom,” Yates said. “I cried in our kitchen to Matt. He kept giving me excuses. We tried to coordinate a meeting to meet with him to get the money and he didn’t show up for that.”
A couple days after she asked for her money back, Yates noticed Nunes had cashed her check.
"I finally came to the realization that we weren’t getting our deposit back and I literally felt defeated at that moment,” Yates told 19 News.
After months of pleading with Nunes to return her money, she went to the police and filed a report.
"I can’t imagine that someone would do that to someone and just think that it’s okay,” Yates said holding back tears.
Nunes has been charged with felony theft.
"Seeing her and how she felt about this whole situation it brought me to tears a little bit you know I’m doing it right now a little bit,” said Matthew Novak.
Erin Stone is prosecuting the case. She says Nunes learned he did not get the event permits the morning of September 30th, the same day Yates paid him.
"The hearing was in the morning and he took the deposit in the evening,” said Erin Stone, Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.
19 News also spoke to several other people who claim this isn't the first time Nunes has been involved in shady business dealings. Stone is familiar with this too and believes there very well may be more victims.
“The possibility of other victims being out there that would be the greatest concern that this was perhaps on a larger scale.”
19 News’ Kelly Kennedy went by the winery to get Nunes’ side.
"There's a pending theft case against you,” Kelly said.
“There’s no theft in that,” said Nunes. “They have a contract. They backed out of their contract by changing their wedding date.”
“According to them you couldn’t host their wedding because you weren’t allowed to have events in your space, that’s not true?” Kelly asked
“That’s absolutely not true,” Nunes said. “It’s not true.”
“So, you didn’t take their money and refuse to pay them back?” she asked.
“I did not refuse to not pay them back,” Nunes said. “They’re in a contract with us.” Documents show that Nunes did not get a permit to host events.
19 News has also learned there is already a warrant out for Nunes’ arrest related to two felony cases of failure to pay child support.
If you think you may be a victim, the prosecutor’s office is urging you to contact 2nd District Police Detective Jerome Krakowski at (216) 623-5218.