Owner of local real estate sales business accused of taking clients’ money
CLEVELAND – News 5 Investigators have delved into allegations against a property sales business owner accused of taking money from clients.
Jessica Galayda is the owner of Cleveland Estate Liquidators. She faces a theft charge and has been the subject of several civil lawsuits.
OUR PROCESS FOR GETTING ANSWERS
News 5 Investigators used multiple producers and multiple undercover cameras to track down Cleveland Estate Liquidators owner Jessica Galayda.
But our story begins in Rocky River City Court for Galayda’s felony theft hearing last month.
She didn’t show up and her lawyer told us, “I won’t comment at this time,” after the hearing was postponed.
Cindy Hauck of North Olmsted is listed as the victim in the crime case.
“What do you think of what happened today? we asked Hauck.
“Disgusted,” she replied.
Hauck hired Galayda to organize an estate sale after Hauck’s husband passed away and she wanted to sell some things from her house.
Hauck told us that Galayda stole her sale.
“She takes money from people and puts it in her bra,” said Hauck, who told us she watched part of the sale in person. “(Galayda) didn’t have any records…she didn’t write anything.”
And when the sale was over, Hauck couldn’t believe what she heard.
“(Galayda) called me up and said, ‘Well, I really haven’t sold that much.’ And I said, ‘Wait a minute, Jessica. A lot of things are missing from my house,'” Hauck told us.
OTHER FORMER CUSTOMERS STEP FORWARD
“I don’t understand how people can do the things they do,” said Angie Swanson of Mayfield Village. She came to court to support Hauck.
Swanson hired Galayda to handle her own property sale earlier this year.
She said Galayda gave her less than $400 after the sale.
“The day before the sale, she sold the refrigerator for $500, which I physically witnessed,” Swanson explained.
“Not to mention the other content? ” we asked.
“Correct,” Swanson replied.
Swanson filed a civil lawsuit for $6,000. A magistrate ruled in his favour, but Galayda disputes this decision.
Swanson’s mother descended into dementia and the idea was for Galayda to sell some of her mother’s possessions.
“It’s about (Galayda) not having empathy for people in their life struggles,” Swanson said.
We discovered that other civil lawsuits had been filed against Galayda, including a judgment against her in Bedford City Court.
While the felony case and other civil lawsuits are ongoing, News 5 investigators have seen Galayda continue to run real estate sales in our area.
WHAT OUR HIDDEN CAMERAS HAVE CAPTURED
During a sale, we saw Galayda write something after making a sale, but during another event, our producer asked Galayda if she gave receipts for purchases.
“I mean you could write out the same receipt that I would give you,” Galayda can be heard saying on our hidden camera. “Because it’ll just be a piece of paper…but I don’t usually, no.”
These are the same kind of issues Westlake’s Sara Kornokovich said she had after hiring Galayda when her mother died.
“And that’s… oh!” It’s so difficult,” Kornokovich said, crying. “It’s still so fresh.”
Kornokovich filed a criminal complaint against Galayda. Westlake PD told us the case will go to the grand jury.
Solon’s Michele Merin said she was a client of Kornokovich’s estate sale run by Galayda.
“You asked her how much something cost, and she had no idea what to charge,” Merin told us.
At another event, our camera caught Galayda looking at prices on her phone and changing them on the fly.
Merin said when selling Kornokovich that she saw at least 10 people before she spent $75 to $100 each or more.
“We’ve seen over $700 from just two clients,” Merin said.
“With many others online?” we asked.
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And people were there all day,” Merin replied.
Kornokovich told us that Galayda brought in $1,354 in overall sales.
“What do you think of the total she got?” we asked Merin.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” she replied.
“It weighed on my conscience so much that other people find it and use it for sale,” Kornokovich said. “And that’s why we decided to move forward with News 5.”
GALAYDA COURTS FROM OUR CAMERAS, QUESTIONS
We wanted to get answers from Galayda herself. We found her at an estate sale in the Chagrin Falls area.
“Hello, Jessica? Jonathan Walsh from News 5,” we said as we walked up to her. But she fled our cameras.
“Where are you going? We have questions for you about your former clients,” we continued. “They accuse you of hurting them. Are you stealing money from them? Why are we running away? -you ?
Galayda refused to answer all of our questions.
We asked former clients why they move forward with their stories. They all said the same thing.
“She needs to be put away and she needs to stop selling,” Hauck said. “She needs to stop her real estate sales.”
TWO SHOPS OF GALAYDA PROHIBITED ON SITE
The EstateSales.net website told us that Cleveland Estate Liquidators and another Galayda-owned company called Cleveland Appraisers and Liquidators are banned from the site.
Galayda’s next hearing in Rocky River Municipal Court on the felony charge is scheduled for September 20.