Houston grand jury indicts travel agent

A Houston County grand jury indicted a Warner Robins travel agent today on 58 counts of theft by conversion, a prosecutor says.

Sara Betty Bearden, 65, owner of Sophie's Travel Agency on Moody Road, was also indicted on one felony count of possession of a dangerous drug, Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke said today.

Bearden is accused of pocketing about $70,000 customers had paid for trips that she either failed to book or booked and then canceled, according to Houston County sheriff's Sgt. Al Elvins.

The drug charge was based on the discovery of two pills inside a plastic cigarette wrapper inside her purse when she was first booked into the jail July 28, Elvins previously said.

Bearden was free on a $20,000 bond but on house arrest, Burke said.

House arrest means Bearden must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on her ankle and can only leave her home for pre-court-approved appointments such as a meeting with her attorney or a doctor's visit, the prosecutorsaid.

She is expected to face trial at the first of year, Burke said.

Bearden initially was arrested after failing to refund $35,761 she collected from a group of parents and recent high school graduates for an end-of-summer cruise for which they never received tickets, police said.

Members of the group were families at Shirley Hills Baptist Church.

Since then, more customers filed complaints with authorities, accusing the travel agent of not delivering on bookings ranging from a honeymoon trip to a family reunion.