A man accused of swindling grieving families out of funds used to purchase gravesite headstones has been sentenced to jail time and restitution.
Jesse Lee Ellerbroek, 44, of Mankato, formerly of Winthrop, was sentenced in Brown County Court Monday.
Ellerbroek will serve 60 days in jail. He was also sentenced to five years of probation to be supervised by the Minnesota Department of Corrections. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims.
Ellerbroek was charged with 13 counts of felony theft and felony theft by swindle in June 2021 after multiple customers reported he cashed their checks, then ignored further contact.
Ellerbroek entered a plea in February in which he pled guilty to two counts of theft by swindle. He was issued a stay of adjudication on both counts, which means his charges could ultimately be dismissed if he meets the terms of his probation. The remaining charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal. Ellerbroek’s jail time will be served in two separate 30-day segments. The plea agreement says the second segment of jail time could be waived by a court petition.
Ellerbroek is scheduled to make monthly payments of $717.10 to pay off $42,025.84 in restitution to the victims, and $1,000 in court fees. However, the sentencing order says that he can work off all fines by sentence to serve, a program that puts non-violent offenders to work on community service projects.
Ellerbroek is not the only southern Minnesota memorial company owner who swindled grieving customers. In September 2018, a Windom business owner was accused of stealing over $49,000 from customers who placed headstone orders from Windom Monument Company.