Former wedding planner Justin Lee Olle said he intends to appeal the guilty verdict that was handed down Wednesday morning. He was charged with misappropriation of fiduciary funds and fraud.
Olle is accused of defrauding at least 30 brides-to-be. He was sentenced to 10 years probation and $100,000 in restitution for one count of misappropriation of fiduciary funds; 15 years in prison with credit for time served on one count of theft; and for five counts of forgery, he was sentenced to 10 years in state jail, to be served day-for-day concurrently with his 15-year prison sentence -- meaning that he will serve at least 10 years in prison before having any chance for parole or getting out on good behavior.
Olle was allowed to take the stand during the punishment phase, which began immediately after receiving the guilty verdict. He apologized to the brides-to-be that he defrauded, and tried to explain his actions.
"I know I have problems with dishonesty, but I've always paid for my mistakes," Olle said.
As per judges orders, court was held from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily throughout the course of the trial so that all of the witnesses could testify. The prosecutor explained Wednesday that he wanted each and every one of the brides to explain how they felt after being victimized by Olle, adding that doing so took away some of the brides' emotional toll.
"Mary Jane Darla, I'm so sorry. You deserved a beautiful wedding. You deserved better," Olle said, addressing the brides who testified against him in court. "Honestly, I felt I could give really good weddings without going broke."
Olle's defense council insisted that he deserved probation, saying that their client has been abandoned by everybody in his life; but the prosecution called him a career thief and a liar, saying that the only way to stop him from doing what he has been doing is to send him to prison.
Prosecutors estimated that, in all, about 4,000 people in Nueces County, including at least 30 brides-to-be, were affected by Olle's actions.
During the sentencing, the judge explained that the court's punishment is meant to deter an individual from committing crimes, and sometimes is meant to protect the public. The judge said that Olle has been "operating under a grandiose deception," and that he cannot wear his childhood as a "cloak of excuses."
"You're right. There's no violent crimes here," the judge said. "But you've been deceiving people since you were 17. It's time you were stopped."