PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Rhode Island man wanted in three states has pleaded no contest to charges in two separate cases that he conned victims out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Kevin Millette, 45, of North Smithfield, pleaded nolo contendre to two counts of "unlawful appropriation" for swindling several victims. As part of a deal with the attorney general's office, Millette will serve up to 12 years in prison and then he'll face up to 28 years of probation when he gets out.
The plea hearing came out of the blue as Millette was set to face sentencing on a separate probation violation. But apparently hoping to avoid trial, he informed his defense team he wanted to plead guilty to the more serious charges.
Millette was ordered to pay restitution totaling $106,000 for both cases. His defense attorney, John Sylvia, said his client informed him he does not have the money and hopes to pay it off when he gets out of prison and finds a job.
When asked by Associate Justice Bennett Gallo if he had anything to say, Millette stated "no."
"When it comes to crimes involving property there is not much worse in my view than taking people's money and property, often hard earned, by first gaining their trust and betraying that trust," Gallo said. "You sir are a multiple offender."
Millette was arrested earlier this year by a U.S. Marshals task force, found hiding out at a hotel in New Jersey. The Rhode Island State Police had been tracking his movements since a Target 12 Investigation last year revealed he was accused of swindling victims up and down the East Coast in elaborate car and motorcycle schemes.
The 2009 charges accuse Millette of bilking former professional hockey player Jeffrey Jillson out of more than $83,000 with hollow promises to deliver motorcycle parts and a Mercedes. Court records show Millette fled following his arraignment in that case.
During the hearing Special Assistant Attorney General Carole McLaughlin said Millette used that money for "his own personal use."
Jillson played for the Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks. More recently he played professional hockey in Europe.
It was a similar case in North Kingstown in 2011. While on the run from the law, Millette convinced a man he was renting a room from to give him money with promises of a profit.
"The defendant took this $22,000 for an investment opportunity to purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle and sidecar which were then going to be sold at a profit," McLaughlin said. "[Millette] used that $22,000 for his own use."
A Target 12 review of records shows Millette was accused of similar scams in Warwick, New Hampshire and Florida and that he served a year in federal prison after being convicted of a motorcycle scam in Virginia.
In that case, federal prosecutors said Millette duped a group of blue-collar investors out of more than $600,000. Investigators said Millette claimed he could get Harley Davidson motorcycles at cut-rate prices, offering to share the profits when they got sold. Prosecutors said the plan was pure fiction and the victims never recouped a dime.
Besides the criminal charges, Millette is named in a civil suit filed in the Jillson case.
Jillson's lawyer, William Devereaux, has asked the Rhode Island courts to attach two homes owned by Millette to the lawsuit. Devereaux contends the mortgages paid on those homes were obtained – at least in part – from the nearly $84,000 Jillson gave to Millette.
Two lesser counts of obtaining money under false pretense were dropped as part of the deal. Millette was also ordered to stay away from the victims in both cases.
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