JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Police say Jonathon Leber pretended to be an investment broker to con people out of their life savings.
He pleaded guilty to four felony crimes in Jefferson County Circuit Court on Wed.
As part of his plea agreement, Leber admitted to lying and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who once depended on him to invest their money.
“We liked him. We thought he was a nice guy. We had him in our home,” said Iris Hampton, one of his alleged victims.
Since 2009, Leber, who has no education beyond a G.E.D., passed himself off as a licensed investment broker at a fake company he created, which was located at an address that doesn't exist.
Danielle Hampton Brown was one of his first victims.
She came to Leber for investment advice after her husband, Fern Creek Fire Department Captain Eric Hampton, died while on a whitewater rafting trip in 2009.
Leber took all Eric's life insurance money, $145,000 which was supposed to be used set up a trust fund for her son Ethan.
“The following week, I started giving him money he was gonna invest for me. Never got statements. Could not find information on my investments,” said Brown.
Brown met Leber through her in-laws, Charlie and Iris Hampton.
Leber stole $170,000 from them.
“All of our money we saved for retirement, it's now gone. And we're too old to get another job,” Iris Hampton said.
One thing most of the two dozen or so alleged victims had in common is that they worked at the old Colgate plant in southern Ind. with Leber's father-in-law. All of them received large checks when the plant shut down.
Leber allegedly used that money to open a gun range in Barren County and to pay back investors who became aware they were being swindled.
“He was paying me back from someone else and stealing from someone else,” said Brown.
“He's not running from anything. He's not hiding from anything. He simply wants to do everything he can from here on,” said Tom Cofey, Leber’s attorney.
Leber returns to court in June to be sentenced.
The recommendation under the plea agreement is for 10 years, plus restitution.
He is also under federal investigation for those other alleged thefts involving as much as $2 million.