A grand jury has declined to indict an Alliance-based wedding photographer on a theft charge.

An Alliance-based wedding photographer accused of ripping off her customers won’t face criminal charges.

A Stark County grand jury declined Monday to indict Melanie L. Schoolcraft, 24, on one count of felony theft.

Schoolcraft’s attorney said she will make her best effort to get photographs to her clients.

Alliance police charged Schoolcraft in June after several couples who hired her to photograph their weddings complained that they didn’t get what they paid for.

Court papers listed nine victims and said Schoolcraft deprived them of more than $9,600 between September 2007 and July 2008.

But cases such as this can fall in a gray area between a criminal matter and a civil dispute. At least four of the couples also sued Schoolcraft in small claims court.

Schoolcraft’s clients didn’t get what they bargained for, and are understandably upset, but the grand jury didn’t appear convinced her conduct rose to the level of a crime, said Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Joseph Vance.

“If you can’t convince seven out of nine people in grand jury, then it just doesn’t go any further,” he said.

Schoolcraft ran Love & Marriage Photography and often went by her middle name, Love.

Defense attorney James Haupt Jr. said she intended to fulfill her contracts but was overtaken by personal issues.

Her former clients — who lived throughout Ohio and even out of state — said they paid between $500 and $1,800, then spent months trying to get photos of their weddings. Some said they received a few prints, others were stuck with CDs of less-than-print quality photos.

“She gave something, not everything, but she gave something,” Vance said.

A call seeking comment was left at a phone listing for Schoolcraft.

Of the small claims cases against her, one was dismissed, and three resulted in default judgments of at least $1,400, but attempts to collect the money have failed, records show.

One of the disgruntled brides, Connie Arcangelini of Cleveland, was frustrated with the grand jury’s decision and didn’t hold out much hope that lawsuits will help her or other clients get their pictures.

Asked Arcangelini: “What if she does this again?”

Canton Repository