Man who ripped off brides-to-be in jail in GA

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man who took money from brides-to-be at a flower shop in West Seneca and never delivered on his promises has been arrested.

“Russell Pannell” was one of many names used by the man we now know as Billy Russell Tomlinson. Shortly before the Plaid Petunia closed, Tomlinson skipped town. News 4 has now learned he is currently in a Georgia jail.

Katie DiLeo made the first Call 4 Action, about turning over $750 to the man she and other local brides knew as “Russell Pannell” who claimed he was the co-owner of the Plaid Petunia. But none of the brides-to-be ever got their flowers. In fact, the flowers were never even ordered, and “Pannell” was gone.

Twenty of the brides went to the Attorney General, and as part of the settlement, the real owner of the Plaid Petunia, Sean Tober, paid most of them back, even though investigators believed the shop’s owner was a victim, too.

Billy Russell Tomlinson skipped town but now we’ve learned he was arrested after a routine traffic stop in Georgia and is being held on a warrant for not showing up in court four years ago.

He is also wanted in several other states, including Maryland, where Baltimore florist Chris Psoras says Tomlinson ripped her off for more than $15,000.

One of the other brides-to-be that Tomlinson ripped off sent News 4 an email that she literally cried when she got the news he is behind bars.

Tomlinson is being held at the Rockdale County Jail in Conyers, Georgia for skipping court on fraud charges there.

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