The owner of a popular boutique that was once open at the mall has been arrested and is now facing charges and lawsuits across the Lowcountry.
Nicole Soriano used to own the store Looking for Local. Citadel Mall shut the store down amid an I-Team investigation in March. This month, one week after the News 2 I-Team aired the update in on warrants for her, she was arrested in Charleston County.
In court Soriano told the judge she was trying to pay back her victims, and her mother asked the judge to release Soriano to her family. Soriano is a mother.
The judge released her on bond, but her legal troubles are far from over.
She faces a charge in Hanahan where police believe she misled a couple into investing $12,000 in a second store location that Soriano never actually planned to open.
In Dorchester County she faces charges related to a traffic stop.
In Charleston County she faces four charges for writing bad checks, and in the City of Charleston she faces four more charges. Charleston police believe she took nearly $29,000 from four different victims. Affidavits obtained by News 2 show those victims also believed they were investing in a second store.
Police say they are continuing to investigate claims against Soriano, and more charges could be forth coming.
Reaction to the arrest is mixed among her alleged victims.
“I hate to say I was relieved and happy,” Allen Carpenter told the I-Team. “But I was happy that something was finally getting done.”
Carpenter says he was looking for a chance to expand his Holy City Cupcakes business into a second location. He thought he found the right place and the right business partner in Nicole Soriano and her store Looking for Local. Carpenter signed an agreement to own equity in the new Belle Hall location and handed over a rent check. He also ordered thousands of dollars in new equipment. The problem for Carpenter started when he showed up at the store mid-February, and it still had the leasing information in the window.
“While we can forgive her,” Carpenter said, “she has to face judgement for what she’s done.”
Carpernter has gotten his money back from Soriano.
But Lorilyn Smith, who is an It Works distributor, hasn’t been as lucky.
“I know that she deserves it, and I’m glad justice is being served,” she told the I-Team when asked about the arrest. “But I know it’s going to be harder for people who were hurt to get their money back.”
Smith says Soriano owes her some $30,000. Smith said she not only invested money into the proposed stores, but she also is owned money for products that were sold in the former store in Citadel Mall.
Both victims say they worry who is next.
The I-Team reached out to Soriano multiple times for comment, but she hasn’t responded.