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N4T Investigators: FBI, others investigating tour company - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: FBI, others investigating tour company

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VAIL - One year ago this week, some Cienega High School graduates had a blast at Disneyland. The trip came about due to community donations. Because the buses for the tour company they hired never showed up. The Cienega group paid $40,000 ($500 each) to a company called "Senior Grad Trips, owned by George Barragan.

"My question is, where's the $40,000?," said Cienega Principal Neemer Hassey. "Where is all that money that he took and why is he still in business and why is he not being held accountable and why is it taking this long?" 

Hassey is among a lot of people who have been asking those questions for a year. As the News 4 Tucson Investigators reported last spring, Senior Grad Trips also didn't show up to take graduates from high schools in Virginia and Pennsylvania on their trips. In all, Barragan's company was paid at least $90,000 for three trips it did not provide. Now, one year later, no one has received refunds, there have been no charges and no arrests. But law enforcement is working the case. The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that Barragan is under investigation by the FBI and the Attorneys General in Arizona and in Texas, where his business is based. 

UPDATE: The News 4 Tucson investigators have learned that a fourth group has allegedly been stranded by Senior Grad Trips. We were contacted on June 17 by the father of a graduate of a high school in Wittier, Ca. He said 34 students had paid Senior Grad Trips between $1300-$1700 each for a trip to Cancun. The father said the group arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and found out that the airline tickets and hotel were not paid for, only their deposits had been forwarded by Senior Grad Trips. 

Mike Robinette paid Senior Grad Trips $500 for his son, Noah, to go to Disneyland with the Cienega group. Robinette is one of several parents who have been contacted by an investigator with the Texas Attorney General's office and filled out sworn statements against Barragan. We asked Robinette, "Do you think he (Barragan) should go to jail?" He replied, "Absolutely, without a doubt."

And there's more.

We recently received new complaints about Barragan from a former employee. Rachel Mullins saw our previous reports online, after she worked for Barragan. Mullins claims she has not been paid, and that now Barragan is  "ignoring everyone's calls and emails,"

Mullins, a 29 year-old Los Angeles resident, told us she signed an agreement with another one of Barragan's companies, Spring Break All Access. Mullins' agreement states that she was supposed to get paid $500 for working for a week in March at a resort in Cancun, as an "Onsite Staff Representative."  Mullins says she did the job, but along with at least three other employees she knows of, has not received a dime. "I'm not embarrassed to say that, 'Hey, I went to go do this thing and it was total BS,'  she said. She also said she wishes she researched Barragan before signing-up to work for him.

We left messages for Barragan on his cell and office phones; he has not called back. When we first reported on him a year ago, he did return our call. He blamed the Cienega failure on a colleague who he said he fired. And Barragan told us, "The $40,000 is in our account to give back to them. So that's what we're processing."

Mullins says before Barragan began ignoring her calls and emails, he responded to her questions about where her paycheck was by saying, 'Oh, I need to move money around in my account.' Or, 'H.R.'s working on it.' Or, 'I'm having banking troubles.' Mullins said, "I mean it's just excuse after excuse after excuse."

The umbrella company of Barragan's businesses is EB Worldwide. It's based in Selma, Tx. and has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. An agency spokesman says it has received 14 complaints and that EB Worldwide has not responded to any of them. 

Despite all these allegations, Barragan is still pitching new business. We found a photo on Senior Grad Trips Facebook page, posted just a month ago. It's an ad for graduates of 2019 to book their trips. 

We asked Mike Robinette, "If you could talk to George Barragan what would you say?"  "I'd tell him, 'We're coming for you, you're not going to get away with it.'"

Neither the FBI or the Attorneys General in Arizona or Texas will confirm they are investigating Barragan, but that's standard operating procedure during ongoing investigations. Last we heard about  Barragan's location, he was partying in Cancun with students, on their spring break.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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