Monument Advisors owner pleads not guilty in district court
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - A Grand Island business owner says she’s not guilty of the more than 40 charges she faces connected to her company Monument Advisors.
Kelli Lepler, 46, pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning in Hall County District Court. She’s charged with 45 counts of theft by deception. Of those, 37 of them are felony charges and the rest are misdemeanors.
Her pre-trial date is set for November 7 and her jury trial is scheduled for December 4.
Lepler is accused of taking money from customers and never fully delivering on agreements she made for headstones.
According to the search warrant affidavit, on April 4, 2023, a Grand Island woman reported to the police department that she had purchased and signed an agreement to purchase a headstone for her deceased husband from Monument Advisors. The agreement was for an American Black headstone and base, which totaled $7,664.
The woman reportedly contacted Lepler to try and get the stone, and police were called to the store to remove the woman.
Since that April 4 date, police has received more than 60 reports that allege Monument Advisors of taking victims’ money and not providing the headstone.
Police said Lepler used deception practices in eliciting business from customers with losses by the victims totaling over $200,000.
All of the victims purchased the monument, or service between January 8, 2020 and February 9, 2023. Police said in all the cases, the victims have been provided with excuses as to why their headstones are not getting completed.
Court documents said Lepler told police that over the course of the past three years, she has lost all her staff, struggled with the pandemic, dealt with supply chain issues and has been unable to complete orders in a timely manner.
Police said Lepler told investigators during an interview that she would need to use new customer’s down payments or payments, to complete old orders.
Earlier in September, Lepler appeared in county court for her preliminary hearing, where attorney’s presented a preview of the case to see if there was enough to move it forward.
This included testimony from Grand Island Police Investigator Bryce Collamore. He testified that when the department started to investigate Monument Advisors, files from 2012-2019 were in order, but from 2020 on they were unable to find detailed records.
Collamore said that was the year when Lepler took over as owner. He said at one point her business bank accounts got so bad that they didn’t go in the positive, even after depositing a check.
She remains housed in the Hall County Jail with a bond set at 10 percent of $150,000.
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