By Morgan Bryce
Former Opelika businessman Kyle Sandler was arrested on Lee County warrants last week in Bryan, Texas.
Brazos County Jail records state that Sandler, founder and owner of the small business start-up/incubator space The Round House LLC, was arrested on charges of theft and of being a fugitive from justice.
Currently being held without bond, Sandler is awaiting extradition proceedings which will return him to Alabama to answer for the charges he faces, according to Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes.
“The next step is to have him extradited back to Lee County. We are pursuing this case because we believe a number of crimes have been committed against numerous Lee County citizens,” Hughes said. “The arrest warrants for the bad checks were the mechanisms to get him arrested, held and brought back to Lee County to answer for what we believe will be much more serious offenses. We will be working with other agencies to determine just which criminal charges we can pursue.”
“He was a con artist”
Sandler was arrested at “The Corner Lot” car dealership in Bryan, Texas.
Owner Alex Bahl said he worked with local authorities to stage the arrest after Sandler wronged him through months of missed car payments and slandering his business through fake Google accounts.
Bahl said he lured Sandler to the store by offering him forgiveness on his late car payments in exchange for help in boosting and promoting his business’s website and Facebook page.
Sandler was later arrested by Bryan Police Deparment officers Thursday afternoon.
While in Texas, Sandler and a business partner created a new business entity, Millennial Press, LLC in April 2018 according to records on the Texas Secretary of State website.
On May 24, The U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission also received a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities for the new LLC, stating a business address in Austin, Texas. This form was an amendment to a previously filled document (filed May 23) and the amendent added Sandler as an Executive Director of Millennial Press. Attempts to reach Millennial Press for comment were unsuccessful.
One of Sandler’s claims to fame was that was he was employee #240 at Google, which the Observer confirmed as false in 2016.
After owning and selling two start-ups, ‘The Droid Guy” and “Nibletz,” Sandler relocated from Memphis to the Opelika-Auburn area.
In spring 2015, Sandler, along with Auburn University Management Professor Dr. Dave Ketchen Jr., published a since-retracted article claiming that he was “entrepreneur-in-residence” at the Auburn Business Incubator, connected with the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.
In email correspondence with the Observer, the foundation’s Business Director Cary Chandler dismissed those claims stating that Sandler’s only association with them “was as a tenant.”
Sandler opened The Round House in downtown Opelika in January 2016, before moving it to the old Woolworth’s building on Eighth Street that March.
From March – December, accusations of bounced checks, financial misconduct and breaches of contract piled up on Sandler.
On Dec. 14, 2016, Round House officially closed, a decision that Sandler said stemmed from a lack of financial resources.
A former employee of Sandler’s confirmed to the Observer in the days after its closing that several of her co-workers had not received paychecks in the weeks prior to Round House’s closing.
When asked why he wanted to pursue Sandler’s extradition, Hughes said the devious nature of the charges facing him served as the motivation in pursuing this case and attempting to rectify it.
“This case is of particular importance to me because the crimes he is being charged with committing involves a meticulous scheme to steal from the people he was closest to – innocent citizens who thought were investing in a local business and a local citizen they believed in,” Hughes said. “The gross violation of trust is, to me, what makes this case so egregious. Whatever charges we ultimately pursue, he will have the opportunity to defend himself against, and as of right now, he stands innocent until proven guilty.”
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said he was glad to hear that Sandler was being brought to justice.
“Kyle Sandler is a con man and hurt a lot of people. There won’t be a shortage of witnesses to testify against him when he goes on trial,” Fuller said.
Check the Observer for more updates on this story as it continues to develop.