Man who scammed Alabama town pleads guilty to theft

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OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — A man already sentenced to federal prison in a $2 million scam pleaded guilty Tuesday to an additional charge in state court, capping an odd saga that took in an entire Alabama town.

Kyle Sandler, his hands cuffed and wearing a yellow jail uniform, stood before Circuit Judge Christopher Hughes trembling as he pleaded guilty to a state theft charge.

Speaking softly, Sandler apologized to the east Alabama town of Opelika (Oh-puh-LIE-kuh), where he previously admitted cheating dozens of people with promises of riches from high-tech businesses.

"I'd really like to do something to pay the town back," said Sandler, 43.

A federal judge already has sentenced Sandler to more than five years in prison, and the state case doesn't automatically add more time unless Sandler violates his probation once he's free.

The theft charge, involving a bad check of more than $2,500 that was taken out on an area bank, involved only a small piece of a scam that authorities described as massive.

Sandler founded a business called The Round House in 2014 and lured in investors while portraying himself as a wealthy former Google executive.

He raised his profile by aligning himself with internet security pioneer John McAfee and promoting the idea of an area teen who came up with an idea for a first aid vending machine.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said it was good to have the case behind the community.

"He is among the worst type of criminals," Hughes said outside of court. "It's theft but he committed that through trust. He took in money from people that he knew, people he lied to and people who trusted him to be a good steward of their money and their investments."

Sandler asked the judge to require him to perform 500 hours of community service in Opelika following his release from prison, but Hughes refused.

The judge said such work "would be a good gesture" that Sandler could do on his own, but he added there was no point in adding it to his sentence officially.

Sandler pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges involving the overall scheme.

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