Man Convicted Of Swindling Businesses

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A 45-year-old Phoenix man was found guilty Oct. 1 of posing as an electronics distributor who took thousands of dollars from several Rim Country businesses but failed to deliver on any products.

A Gila County jury found John Patrick Kelly, 45, guilty of theft, attempted theft, trafficking in stolen property, fraudulent schemes and artifices and three counts of criminal impersonation, said Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores.

In February of 2007, Payson Police Sgt. Joni Varga received a report from a Payson resident that a man posing as John Willinger had taken $1,000 from him as payment for electronics, but had refused to return the money when the man had changed his mind and tried to cancel the order, Flores said in a press release.

Varga’s investigation led her to several small businesses in Payson and Pine where Willinger had made similar promises, taking money or jewelry and failing to deliver electronics as promised.

Varga learned Willinger was in fact John Patrick Kelly, a man who had been to prison for similar schemes.

By the time Varga discovered all this, Kelly had left the Payson area and was not caught until he was arrested on a warrant in Phoenix, Flores said.

In October of 2008, Kelly pleaded not guilty to all counts against him and requested a jury trial.

At the trial, the jury heard from each of Kelly’s victims. All said that Kelly had misrepresented himself as an electronics distributor, convinced them to give him cash or jewelry and then failed to deliver any products.

Following this testimony, the jury found Kelly guilty.

Judge Peter Cahill will sentence Kelly in Payson on Oct. 25. Kelly faces a minimum of 15.75 years in prison.

Deputy County Attorneys Pascal Brown and Kyle Mann prosecuted the case.

“This man was caught because the victims had the fortitude to come forward and Varga had the tenacity to uncover all the leads and discover the extent of Kelly’s fraud,” Brown said.

Kelly’s attorney, Ronald DeBrigida, said he had no comment on the case with sentencing pending.

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