APEX, N.C. — Editor's Note: The video above is from October 2020.
A travel entrepreneur now faces arrest in the wake of a 2018 luxury yacht charter trip that failed to deliver what was promised - both for its passengers and the company from which the boats were leased, court documents show.
An arrest order was issued for Reginald Cummings, the founder of Black Travel Movement, for failure to comply with the legal process and other violations, according to court documents obtained by WUSA9. Cummings was found to be in civil contempt. The January order was signed by Wake County Superior Court Judge Mark. A. Sternlicht in North Carolina.
Cummings’ Black Travel Movement company has been locked in a legal battle with Annapolis-based Dream Yacht Charter. Cummings claimed Dream Yacht Charter failed to supply adequate provisions and boats for a 2018 week-long excursion dubbed "Black Yacht Week." Dream Yacht Charter denied the allegations and instead claimed that Cummings failed to pay a remaining balance of $519,934 for boats, staff and provisions it supplied for the trip. Dream Yacht Charter sued Cummings and Black Travel Movement for unjust enrichment, breach of contract and fraud.
“I am always open to having a conversation and presenting my side; however, in light of this, I need to contact an attorney,” said Cummings when WUSA9 reached out for comment. He said he was unaware of the arrest order until informed by WUSA9.
Many travelers on Cummings’ Black Yacht Week trip were unaware of the financial dispute between Cummings and Dream Yacht Charter prior to or during the excursion. In a story published by WUSA9 in 2019, attendees complained that many of the boats had mechanical issues and the fine cuisine they paid for turned out to be hot dogs and hamburgers. All of the vacationers with whom WUSA9 spoke said the luxury vacation did not meet their expectations.
The two sides went to court in late 2020. A judge found Cummings at fault and he was ordered to pay a judgment of $1,655,651 to Dream Yacht Charter. The amount included the original balance owed, penalties and other fees. U.S. District Judge Terrance Boyle noted his issues with Cummings’ lack of preparation.
“To date, neither defendant has retained new counsel, made initial disclosures, responded to discovery, conferred with plaintiffs about the proposed scheduling order, or designated … a witness,” Boyle said.
Cummings’ Black Travel Movement company, based in Apex, North Carolina, paid a $60,000 deposit for the 2018 vacation. That's the only money Dream Yacht Charter received even though the company was assured from an associate of Cummings, Jesse Russell, that the balance would be paid in full. Court documents showed Dream Yacht Charter was even provided a "proof of funds" letter from Fidelity Bank of Ghana.
The emailed letter said, “Mr. Jesse Russell President/CEO of Incommunications Services will have the financial funds to meet the repayment financial obligations for any legally recognized United States Business loan in the amount of $2,000,000.00 US Dollar[s].”
Despite many assurances and a confession of judgment signed by Cummings, Dream Yacht Charter never received the money. Cummings claimed in 2019 that the money to pay Dream Yacht Charter was in an escrow account. But the account could not be confirmed by Cummings’ lawyer at the time.
Many of the travelers were able to successfully file disputes with their credit card companies and received a fraction of what they paid.
“It’s a year later and people have still not received restitution that was promised in follow-up emails but was never carried out,” said LaShonda Wilson who attended the trip.
The Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office continues to investigate Cummings for unfair and deceptive commercial practices after numerous complaints were filed with its department.
Officials could move forward with civil charges but, to date, no such charges have been filed.
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