NILES Dance teacher agrees to pay
Many of the parents involved filled a row in court.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Parents are pleased that a dance instructor has agreed to make restitution, but it won't replace the work their daughters devoted to preparing for a recital that won't happen.
A preliminary hearing had been set for Monday in municipal court for Edward L. Ridenbaugh Jr., 32, of Youngstown-Warren Road, on a felony charge of passing bad checks.
City Prosecutor Bruce Bennett said Ridenbaugh, who owns a dance studio for children, agreed to pay more than $4,500 in restitution to the at least 24 people involved.
If Ridenbaugh pays, the charge will be dismissed, court officials said.
In court: Parents of girls enrolled at the school filled the back row in the courtroom Monday morning.
Stacey Nicholas said the girls were set to perform a recital May 12.
Her daughters, Nicole, 14, and Kalin, 10, have been taking lessons from Ridenbaugh for about two years.
Parents had picked out and paid for their costumes for the girls to wear at the event.
As the event drew near and the girls didn't have their costumes, parents started asking questions.
"We kept telling him to just be honest with us -- that we'd work with him because it's for the kids," Nicholas said.
When they got the costumes, they weren't what they ordered. They were homemade outfits, said Dawn Hughley of Warren.
Ridenbaugh told the families they would be reimbursed for the costumes, which cost between $40 and $70, but the checks he wrote bounced, Nicholas said.
"The teller laughed," Hughley said. "She said, 'Not another one of those.'"
That's when the families filed charges.
Ridenbaugh declined to comment.
"My daughter really liked him," said Rebecca Viera of Howland. "My daughter is mad at me because she said, 'You made Ed go to jail.'"
Paige Viera, 7, has been taking lessons from Ridenbaugh for about a year.
Some of his students keep asking their parents when they're going to have their dance recital, said Patti Limperos of Warren.
Won't be one: There won't be a recital this year.
Limperos' daughters, Alexandra, 10, and Marisa, 5, also were Ridenbaugh's students.
Limperos said Donna Cornelius of Footworks in Cortland called her after learning about the recital's cancellation and offered to share Footworks' recital with Ridenbaugh's students.
"But we don't have costumes, we don't know the music," Limperos said. "Logistically, it can't be done."
Trumbull County Commissioner Michael J. O'Brien's daughter, Kristen,12, has been studying dance with Ridenbaugh for two years.
"We're happy with the restitution, but there's still more parents" that didn't go to court to file charges, he said. "Hopefully, they'll also be able to get some restitution."