Kyle Sandler, former owner of the Round House who left Opelika with a string of debt behind him, was arrested in Texas this week on Lee County warrants.
Sandler, 42, was arrested Thursday on charges of theft and being a fugitive from justice, according to Brazos County, Texas, jail records. He was booked into the Brazos County Jail and is being held without bond.
He was arrested without incident by officers from the Bryan Police Department in Bryan, Texas, the department’s public information officer Kelley McKethan confirmed.
“The next step is for my office to start extradition proceedings, to get him back here in Alabama to answer the charges,” Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said Friday morning. “At that point, we’ll start deciding in addition to the bad checks, what other crimes there may be that we’re going to pursue against him, federally and at the state level here in Lee County.”
During his time here, Sandler touted his Round House as somewhat of a startup business incubator, seeking investment capital and high-tech enterprises. The downtown Opelika storefront closed in December 2016, while Sandler faced allegations of unpaid debts. A look into his background revealed he is a convicted felon based on other business misdeeds, as previously reported by the Opelika-Auburn News.
“We had to shut down last Wednesday because we ran out of money,” Sandler told the newspaper at that time. “The business simply ran out of money.”
The Opelika-Auburn News received multiple tips at the time claiming that Round House employees were not being paid for their services.
“I was being groomed to be a general counselor for Round House,” said James Mayo, who said he was hired to handle legal matters for the company. “I’ve actually had my paycheck bounced. I was promised a new salary. He owes me over $1,250.”
Hughes recalled that Sandler worked his charm to become part of Opelika during his time here.
“He was just a real part of the community,” the district attorney said. “I know he was telling people he was going to run for mayor, and he was just really ingratiating himself into the community.”
Multiple publications incorrectly stated that Sandler was employed by Google for a period of time.
“The 39-year-old Baltimore native is so unassuming it’s hard to grasp that he held a key position at Google – where he resigned after eight years, with an enviable chunk of its stock – and has taken three multimillion-dollar technology exits,” reads a 2015 Business Alabama article titled “From Google to One-Gig Opelika.”
“Kyle Sandler began his career as a teen radio DJ and ended up in Menlo Park, California, where he became friends with employees of Google in the early days,” Ignite Alabama published in 2015. “Kyle ended up taking a job in marketing with Google as employee #240 and the rest, as they say, is history.
“After cashing out of Google, Kyle founded The Droid Guy and eventually sold that website for 7-figures (sic). Kyle’s next big start-up was Nibletz, which he eventually sold, as well.”
The Opelika-Auburn News, however, confirmed in 2016 that Sandler was never employed by the Silicon Valley giant, as Google had no record or connection to him.
“We’re certainly starting on our end, because this has been hanging out there for a long time,” Hughes said. “He took a lot of money from the citizens of Opelika, from people who invested in his business based on false pretenses. And he was out there doing the same thing when they caught him. He was conducting another scheme.
“He’s a danger to our society, for sure, so we want to get him back here as soon as we can and get moving on this thing.”