CLEVELAND — News 5 Investigators have been digging deep into allegations made against an estate sales business owner accused of taking money from clients.
Jessica Galayda is the owner of Cleveland Estate Liquidators. She is facing a felony theft charge and has had multiple civil cases brought against her.
OUR PROCESS TO GET ANSWERS
News 5 Investigators used multiple producers and several undercover cameras to track down the owner of Cleveland Estate Liquidators Jessica Galayda.
But our story starts at Rocky River Municipal Court for Galayda’s felony theft hearing last month.
She didn’t show, and her attorney told us, “I’m not going to make any comment at this time,” after the hearing was postponed.
Cindy Hauck from North Olmsted is listed as the victim in the felony case.
“How do you feel about what happened today? we asked Hauck.
“Disgusted,” she replied.
Hauck hired Galayda to run an estate sale after Hauck’s husband passed away and she wanted to sell some things from her home.
Hauck told us Galayda stole from her sale.
“She’s taking money from people and sticking it down her bra,” said Hauck, who told us she watched some of the sale going on in person. “(Galayda) didn’t have any record…she wrote nothing down.”
And when the sale was over, Hauck couldn’t believe what she heard.
“(Galayda) called me and said, ‘Well, I really didn’t sell that much.’ And I said, ‘Wait a minute, Jessica. There’s a lot of stuff gone from my house,’” Hauck told us.
OTHER FORMER CLIENTS STEP FORWARD
“I don’t understand how people can do the things that they do,” said Angie Swanson from Mayfield Village. She came to court to support Hauck.
Swanson hired Galayda to run her own estate sale earlier this year.
She said Galayda gave her less than $400 after the sale.
“The night before the sale she sold the refrigerator for $500, which I physically witnessed,” explained Swanson.
“Let alone the other contents?” we asked.
“Correct,” Swanson replied.
Swanson sued in civil court for $6,000. A magistrate ruled in her favor, but Galayda is challenging that ruling.
Swanson’s mom slipped into dementia, and the whole idea was to have Galayda sell some of her mom’s possessions.
“It’s about (Galayda) not having any empathy for people in their life struggles,” said Swanson.
We found more civil suits have been filed against Galayda, including a judgment against her in Bedford Municipal Court.
While the felony case and other civil suits are ongoing, News 5 Investigators saw Galayda continuing to run estate sales in our area.
WHAT OUR HIDDEN CAMERAS CAUGHT
At one sale, we saw Galayda writing something down after making a sale, but at another event, our producer asked Galayda whether she gives receipts for purchases.
“I mean you could write up the same receipt I would give you,” Galayda can be heard saying on our hidden camera. “Because it’s just going to be a piece of paper... but I usually don’t, no.”
They’re the same kind of issues Sara Kornokovich from Westlake said she had after hiring Galayda when her mother passed away.
“And it’s… oh! This is so hard,” said Kornokovich while tearing up. “It’s still so fresh.”
Kornokovich filed a criminal complaint against Galayda. Westlake Police told us the case will go to the grand jury.
Michele Merin from Solon said she was a customer at Kornokovich’s estate sale run by Galayda.
“You’d ask how much something was, and she didn’t have any idea of what to charge,” Merin told us.
At a different event, our camera caught Galayda looking up prices on her phone and changing them on the fly.
Merin said at Kornokovich’s sale she witnessed at least 10 people ahead of her spending $75-$100 each or more.
“We saw over $700 just in two customers,” said Merin.
“With many more in line?” we asked.
“Oh yeah. Oh, yeah. And people were there all day,” replied Merin.
Kornokovich told us Galayda reported $1,354 in overall sales.
“What do you think about the total that she got? we asked Merin.
“I think it’s ludicrous,” she replied.
“It’s weighed so heavily on my conscious that other people are finding her and using her for sales,” said Kornokovich. “And that’s why we decided to move forward with News 5.”
GALAYDA RUNS 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 while walking up to her. But she ran from our cameras.
“Where are you going? We’ve got some questions to ask you about your former clients,” we continued to ask. “They accuse you of doing them wrong. Are you stealing money from them? Why are you running from us?”
Galayda refused to answer any of our questions.
We asked the former clients why they are stepping forward with their stories. They all said the same thing.
“She needs to be put away and she needs to stop selling,” said Hauck. “She needs to stop with her estate sales.”
TWO OF GALAYDA'S BUSINESSES BANNED ON SITE
The website EstateSales.net told us Cleveland Estate Liquidators and another company Galayda owns 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.