Created on Friday, 25 February 2011 10:33
A former Montgomery County travel agent who admitted bilking more than three dozen people out of nearly $170,000 has been given five years on probation. At her sentencing Thursday President Judge Richard Hodgson said she deserved jail time, but he did not have her locked up because he did not want to burden county taxpayers with her healthcare bills. She is in a wheelchair and suffering from several health problems. 68-year-old Frances Balshan pleaded guilty last year to felony charges of deceptive business practices and theft. She lived in Abington at the time of the crime and did business as World Travel Vignettes out of an office on Old York Road, but now she lives in New Jersey. Prosecutors say she contracted about three years ago with the Saint Louis Zoo to book an African Safari for a Missouri group, and then used the money to pay personal bills. The Missouri residents went on their safari after a friend of the zoo paid for the trip.