LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A 31-year-old Diboll woman is alleging that her big day turned out to be a nightmare.
On Wednesday, the woman filed a report with the Lufkin Police Department, which accused her wedding planner of taking more than $15,000 for services and items that were not provided. The report listed the offense as misappropriation of fiduciary or financial property between $1,500 and $20,000, which is a state-jail felony.
Lindsey Rae Syler, the victim in the case, deferred comment to her attorney Jimmy Cassels. Cassels said he prefers not to comment at this time because he is waiting on the outcome of the LPD investigation.
According to the narrative of the police report, Syler hired the suspect to be her wedding planner on Oct. 30, 2013. She told the Lufkin Police Department that she signed a contract with the suspect in which he estimated his part in the planning the wedding to be $4,000. He also charged her an additional $1,200 for the clean up after the ceremony.
The wedding was scheduled for May 3, 2014 at Winston 8 Ranch, and Syler estimated the total cost of the ceremony to be $40,000.
"Syler said she has been paying [the suspect] for items and contractors with checks and cash," the narrative stated. "On the day of the wedding, [the suspect] called her mother, Linda Syler, and told her his wallet had been stolen, and $6,000 of Lindsey's money was in it, and without it, there would be no wedding. Syler's mother paid him $3,000, and the wedding was performed on time."
Syler told the Lufkin Police Department that many of the items and services that they paid for were not provided. According to the narrative, the wedding planner contracted with The Outback Steakhouse in Lufkin for approximately $6,300 worth of steaks for the wedding. However, Syler learned that Outback had not been paid, according to the narrative.
The owner and operator of The Outback Steakhouse, who declined to give his name, told the East Texas News that his restaurant and employees had been paid in full for catering Syler's wedding.
In addition, the suspect was allegedly given a check to pay for breakfast for the wedding party at Hole in One. Syler said she later learned that bill was also not paid. The narrative also said that the wedding planner accepted and cashed a check for "Porta Johns," but they were never delivered to the wedding location.
Syler told the Lufkin Police officer that she and her husband checked the wedding location the day after the ceremony, and that it had not been cleaned up as the suspect had promised.
According to the narrative, Syler tried to set up a meeting with the wedding planner on May 8. However, she was allegedly texted by a third-party subject that said the suspect "was having problems and would not be able to attend the meeting." Later that day, the wedding planner texted Syler and told her he was sorry and that he expected to be punished for doing wrong, the narrative stated.
Syler told the Lufkin Police Department that she continued texting the wedding planner over the course of the next few days in an effort to set up a meeting. However, the suspect never contacted her back.
The narrative stated that Syler told the LPD officer she estimated that she paid more than $15,000 in cash and checks to the wedding planner for services and items that were not provided. In addition, the report stated that she will be working with her attorney to provide an itemized list of services and receipts to the Lufkin Police Department as soon as possible.
In addition to the possible criminal charge against the wedding planner, there is a pending lawsuit against him in small claims court that alleges he misappropriated funds in a similar manner when he was contracted as a wedding planner for another wedding.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Carroll Lewing, states that the wedding planner contracted with Lewing to plan their wedding for the agreed price of $3,000. In addition, the family agreed to pay another $15,000 to the suspect to distribute to various vendors and businesses for wedding-related services and items.
According to the lawsuit's petition, Lewing is seeking a judgment of $15,000, along with at least $5,000 to cover the cost of her legal fees.