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Rio Grande City headstone maker accused of stealing from customers

1 month 2 weeks 6 days ago Saturday, February 24 2024 Feb 24, 2024 February 24, 2024 4:27 PM February 24, 2024 in News - Local

When her aunt Julia died in Aug. 2023, Minnie Lopez said she and her family decided to bury her ashes with other relatives in Roma. 

In September, the family bought a nearly $900 headstone for their aunt from Starr County Monuments.

Lopez said business owner Noie Hesbrook III promised them he would create and install the headstone. 

Calls and texts to him eventually stopped going through, Lopez said.

"Unfortunately, I was unable to get a hold of anybody on the phone," Lopez said.

Lopez and her family were not the only people in a similar situation.

On Tuesday, the 229th Judicial District Attorney's Office announced the arrest of Hesbrook on theft charges.

READ ABOUT THE ARREST HERE 

A news release accuses him of stealing thousands of dollars from dozens of customers.

"We had over 50-some cases at the DA's office, all involving the same allegations," Starr County 1st Assistant District Attorney Alexandria Barrera said. "He basically told them all the same thing, that it was going to get done, but it never got done —until he just stopped answering everybody."

The office of Starr County Monuments in Rio Grande City currently has locks on its doors, and an eviction notice from Dec. 2023.

Hesbrook was indicted by a grand jury in Starr County for allegedly stealing $135,000 after prosecutors say he took payments for monuments and headstones he never completed.

The district attorney's office says since Hesbrooke’s indictment, they’ve received about 40 more cases totaling over $120,000.

"We do anticipate that there will be additional cases filed against Mr. Hesbrook, and we're encouraging the public to come forward should they have any information or if they believe they're victims themselves," Barrera said.

If the total reaches $300,000 or more, Hesbrook could face up to 99 years behind bars if convicted. 

The DA's office says families may never get their money back. 

Lopez said the situation isn’t about getting even, she just wants her aunt to have a peaceful resting place.

"I'm sure that everyone would like to have their headstones or their nameplates or whatever it is, more than having him in jail," Lopez said.

Hesbrook is currently out on bond. He has a court hearing set for Wednesday, Feb. 28. 

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