BLAIR, Neb. (WOWT) -- A couple who operated a wedding and event center in Blair are both accused of felony theft after they closed up shop and kept the money from their clients, according to authorities.
Nicholas Yaksich, 53 and Kelly Jo Yaksich, 57 are charged with theft by unlawful taking of more than $5,000. They were both arrested by the Blair Police Department on Friday.
Two brides who paid the Yaksichs for wedding receptions are among the 18 alleged victims named in the arrest affidavit.
Morgan Merriman is owed $1,000 and Kashe Hanson is owed $2,800.
"That's my next question -- what is next with this? Are they going to have to garnish like any assets or anything they have to get us our money back?" asked Hanson.
Merriman said, "I hope so. It's a toss-up. I hope to get my money back but I also hope they spend the time in jail that they so deserve."
The Washington County affidavit filed March 12 to request an arrest warrant for the couple stated the following series of allegations:
On Jan. 22, a news story was reported by WOWT titled “Event center closure reveals troubling past for the owners”
The Yaksichs had vacated their business, South Creek Wedding and Events Center, and failed to refund money or host the events they were paid for.
The Yaksichs became delinquent in their rent of the venue space as well as other charges to the owner of the building for about $22,000.
The Yaksichs continued to operate the business in the building for another nine months, of which they made six rent payments less than the required amount.
The investigation revealed 18 separate people or entities had paid deposit money to the Yaksichs to rent their venue for an event. They were paid a total of $19,975 in deposits.
The events were never hosted. The Yaksichs vacated the property on Jan. 13. None of the customers received refunds.
A review of South Creek’s bank records showed investigators a deposit of $50,000, but it did not appear the money was used from a financial lending company to refund any of the customers.
“The Yaksichs deceived people who had paid a deposit by writing them letters that South Creek Wedding and Events had changed ownership. They did not provide a name or business name of any new ownership,” the report states.
The Yakshichs provided customers with a phone number they said was for the new owners but the number had been disconnected.
The number was registered to the Yaksichs, however.
In Douglas County Court, the Yaksichs are the defendants in a lawsuit filed by Arbor Bank on Feb 4.
The lawsuit claims the Yaksichs defaulted on a loan and still owe $18,801.66.
In 2018 they were sued by Industrial Packaging Corporation for $48,155.18 for nonpayment of services and supplies.
Their court dates for the theft case have not been scheduled as of Friday night.