PHOTO: The Zambezi Queen ship on the Chobe River, a ship used by Tom Harper Cruises. (photo via Flickr/Roderick Eime)
Last week, the former owner of Tom Harper Cruises was sentenced to almost four years in prison and ordered to pay $2.9 million in restitution for defrauding hundreds of customers.
According to The Boston Globe, Bret A. Gordon was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release in a United States District Court in Boston after he stole $2.3 million from Tom Harper customer accounts for his own use.
The U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of Massachusetts said the money was used by Gordon to pay off gambling debts. In addition to the prison sentence, Gordon has been ordered to pay $2.9 million to around customers he defrauded, but it remains unclear where the fund will come from following Tom Harper Cruises filing for bankruptcy protection.
Court documents show Gordon owned a 65 percent stake in Tom Harper Cruises and held exclusive control of its bank accounts and finances. Most of the money stolen by Gordon came from customer deposits which the company needed to pay companies that operated the river cruises sold by Tom Harper Cruises.
As a result of the financial troubles caused by Gordon, Tom Harper Cruises was forced to file for bankruptcy in June 2015. In November 2016, Gordon also plead guilty to six counts of wire fraud and two counts of filing a false personal tax return.