PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A notorious Rhode Island swindler’s past has apparently caught up with him once again.
Serving time for a 2009 conviction on charges that he bilked $85,000 from a former NHL player, Kevin Millette, 49, of North Smithfield, has recently been shipped out of state to face similar charges dating back almost a quarter-century.
A spokesperson at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections confirmed Millette was sent to Massachusetts on Dec. 1, but could not say why.
Target 12 discovered he was sent to the Worcester County House of Corrections, an official there said he was brought to the Commonwealth on an outstanding warrant.
According to court records from Westborough District Court, the charges – larceny of property and larceny by check – stem from a 1992 case where Millette is accused of writing bad checks totaling more than $35,000 to purchase two motorcycles from a Northborough, Mass., dealer, then skipping town after they bounced.
Ironically, it appears to be Millette himself that reignited the decades-old case.
Paperwork in the court file shows Millette was attempting to renew his Rhode Island driver’s license while at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) in Cranston, but couldn’t because of the case out of Northborough. He wrote several letters to the court in Westborough asking for the warrant to be dismissed.
In a May 2014 letter Millette wrote the clerk of courts asking “Was I ever arraigned on this case and can you provide documentation?”
Late in 2015 prosecutors in Massachusetts reached out to RIDOC officials requesting to bring him to Westborough so he could finally be arraigned.
Millette – working without an attorney – pleaded not guilty and has since filed a motion to dismiss the case siting a lack of evidence and saying the six-year statute of limitations on the crime has expired.
Massachusetts law, however, says the statute of limitations freezes when the suspect is no longer in the state.
A Target 12 investigation in 2011 found Millette was on the run for years living in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia and Florida.
Millette’s motion to dismiss the Northborough case will be heard on March 23 in Westborough District Court.
‘Menace to Society’
In 2009 North Smithfield police charged Millette for stealing nearly $85,000 from former NHL player Jeffrey Jillson. Police said Millette made hollow promises to deliver motorcycle parts and a Mercedes. Court records show Millette went into hiding following his arraignment in that case.
Following the 2011 report by Target 12, the Rhode Island State Police ramped up their efforts to track down Millette. He was nabbed on Jan. 12, 2012 at hotel in New Jersey, a clerk there telling Target 12 Millette – who went by the name Howard Ethan – had been living there for a month.
With Millette’s history of flight, Superior Court Magistrate Patricia Harwood took no chances, holding him without bail at his January 2012 arraignment.
“As far as I’m concerned you’re a menace to society,” Harwood said at the time. “You leave a wake of victims wherever you go.”
Later that year Millette pleaded no contest to the charges and sentenced to 40 years, 12 to serve at the ACI.
Prison records indicate Millette has been able to shave 528 days off his sentence through credit for good behavior and some for odd jobs he’s worked at the prison.
RIDOC spokesperson Susan Lamkins said his sentence will continue to shrink while in Massachusetts.
“Once that case is resolved he will return to Rhode Island to finish his sentence,” Lamkins said in an email. “However, while he is in custody in Massachusetts that time counts towards his Rhode Island sentence.”
William Devereaux, the attorney representing Jillson, said his client has only been repaid roughly $4,000 of the $85,000 he lost in the scam. That money was coming in not because Millette was actively making payments, but because Devereaux placed a lien on one of Millette’s rental properties.
The house has since gone into foreclosure ending the restitution payments, Devereaux said.
Trail of Victims
Millette’s biggest known take was more than a decade ago in Virginia.
According to federal prosecutors, Millette scammed a group of blue-collar investors of more than $600,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Waering from the Western District of Virginia worked the case in 1998 and remembers how crafty the defendant was.
“He claimed he was buying Harley Davidson motorcycles low and selling them high so he got a group of investors, they were home builders and contractors,” Waering said. “He claimed to have a source where he could buy them inexpensively and make a big profit.”
Despite a successful prosecution and receiving a sentence of 30 months at Fort Dix in New Jersey, the victims never saw their money again, according to Waering.
Millette also racked up several charges in Rhode Island. He first appeared on the law enforcement radar screen in 1992 when Lincoln police say he reported his car stolen from the Lincoln Mall. An investigation later revealed he had actually sold the car. Millette pleaded no contest to falsely reporting a crime.
In 1999 – while in the custody of the federal government in the Virginia case – Millette pleaded no contest to four separate charges of obtaining money under false pretense for a Rhode Island State Police case and in Warwick, North Smithfield and in Woonsocket.
According to a police report from the Warwick case, Millette allegedly told a victim he could get a motorcycle cheap after it had been in an accident. But, just like in the past cases, Millette never came through and stopped calling the victims.
Millette was also had active warrants out of Marco Island Florida for a 2009 case as well as two cases in 2010 in New Hampshire.
Target 12 was contacted by several people claiming to be victims of Millette after seeing the report in 2011. One of them was a quadriplegic who claimed Millette took more than $30,000 in money raised for her by friends to by a wheelchair van, but never delivered.
Millette has not been charged in that case. The woman – Donna Dale Simerol Darezzo – said she was told by police her best bet was to file a civil suit against Millette, but she said she didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer.
Darren Soens contributed to this report