8 people charged in San Jose moving company scheme

April 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Eight people connected with a San Jose moving company have been charged with a scheme that prosecutors say involved holding furniture and other personal belongings hostage. Most of the defendants fled the country, but three former employees did face a judge on Monday.

These are the men and woman who prosecutors say lured customers with lowball quotes, then held people's belongings hostage on moving day until they paid more money.

Kim Balchios was one of hundreds of victims. Her initial quote of $240 ended up being nearly $1,000 after the foreman kept tacking on fees for extra packaging, materials and hours.

"They have you trapped because you have to get out of your old apartment. You took time off work. I had to go back to work the next day. I mean this move had to be done that day," said Balchios.

The San Jose moving company went by several different names since 2004; A.S.A.P. Relocations and America's Best Movers were among them. Their office on Ringwood Avenue is empty now, and three former employees were arraigned Monday afternoon for felony theft, income tax fraud and money laundering.

Maoz Kadesh, Wayne Allen and Adalinda Reyna-Mendoza pleaded not guilty. The remaining five defendants are believed to have fled to Israel, their home country.

"There are a group of people who come into the U.S. after their military duty and do this type of business. It's not isolated to our county, it's something that happens across the United States," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Martha Donohoe.

This case is scheduled to go to trial in June. As for the five employees who skipped town, the district attorney plans to issue a warrant for their arrest.


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