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May 02. 2013 8:57PM

Bail reduced in Dover man's swindling case

NH Public Defender Carl Swenson and his client, Nickolas Skaltsis, of Dover, who is facing 19 felonies, briefly talk following a bail hearing in Strafford County Superior Court Thursday. (John Quinn/Union Leader Correspondent)

DOVER - A Superior Court judge decided to reduce bail for a prominent real estate investor and former School Board chairman who faces 19 felony charges, even though prosecutors say he is a flight risk.

"This defendant has every reason in the world to avoid a trial," Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti said Thursday of Nickolas Skaltsis, 62, who investigators said used $327,500 in loans from 13 area residents to pay off debts. He also commingled investor funds in a personal account and took some for personal use, according to the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities.

Skaltsis, who had told investors he was using the money to rehabilitate distressed real estate properties for resale, is charged with 15 counts of theft by deception and four counts of theft by misappropriation of property. He was sent to the psychiatric unit at New Hampshire State Hospital after attempting suicide in Wells, Maine, Oct. 12. Skaltsis was arrested in January and is being held at Strafford County jail.

Judge Brian Tucker reduced his bail Thursday from $300,000 to $150,000 cash or corporate surety.

Public defender Carl Swenson argued for $5,000 bail, saying his client has no money.

Swenson said Skaltsis was devastated that he could not repay the "unsecured promissory notes" and loans from his former friends, but wants to make things right.

Bureau of Securities investigators estimate Skaltsis' total debt at $1.2 million.

"By the time he solicited investor funds in 2011, Skaltsis was already heavily in debt to prior secured lenders, prior investors and a $703,504 judgment against him," the bureau investigators wrote. "A review of his bank records shows significant credit card debt and very little disposable cash beginning in 2011."

Judge Tucker said Skaltsis must remain in Dover, live at his home, maintain a current mailing address, be monitored by GPS through the Strafford County Community Corrections Program, have no contact with the victims or witnesses in the case, avoid using alcohol or illegal drugs, submit to random drug testing, surrender his passport to the clerk's office and commit no crimes. He is also prohibited from conducting real estate transactions or soliciting investments.

Indictments in the case are expected to be handed up in June, according to court records.


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