DOVER – After pleading guilty to defrauding a dozen friends and neighbors, a former school official will serve at least 18 months in prison and must pay $278,000 in restitution.
While the case is tied to other victims, Nickolas Skaltsis, 62, of 6 Erik Drive, waived the indictment process and pleaded guilty to three counts of theft by deception and one count of theft by misappropriation of property.
Dover resident Gary Green, who was taken in by Skaltsis, said the thefts were committed by a man who built up trust within the community.
"Your days of influence in Dover or anywhere else has ended," Green said.
Dover resident Phyllis Woods, who previously served in the N.H. House, said Skaltsis hurt the people who trusted him.
"You took more than money – you took our piece of mind," Woods said, adding Skaltsis proved to be an incredible disappointment.
After hearing statements from several victims Wednesday morning, Superior Court Judge Tina Nadeau accepted a plea bargain sentencing Skaltsis to 1½ to 5 years in N.H. State Prison and three suspended sentences of 3½ to 7 years that can be brought forward in the next 10 years.
"The arrogance and audacity of your conduct is stunning to me," Nadeau said.
As part of his sentences, Skaltsis is prohibited from soliciting investors in any state and cannot engage in real estate. He must pay $277,743 in restitution plus a 17 percent administrative fee, according to Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti.
Skaltsis's attorney, Carl Swenson of the NH Public Defender's Office, said his client is taking responsibility for his actions and plans to pay the restitution "in good faith" as there are other pending civil cases against him.
Skaltsis was originally charged with 15 counts of theft by deception and four counts of theft by misappropriation of property for falsely accepting about $327,500 in loans from 13 area residents to rehabilitate distressed real estate properties for resale.
Despite the promises he made, Skaltsis never used the funds to purchase, renovate or sell any properties, according to Assistant Attorney General Robert Adams.
"He immediately converted those funds to his benefit," Adams said.
Skaltsis, who was arrested in January, was sent to the psychiatric unit N.H. State Hospital for a year after he allegedly attempted suicide in Wells, Maine Oct. 12. Police found him inside his vehicle with a generator running.
Skaltsis, who served as school board chairman in 2002, allegedly used the money to pay interest from previous investors, commingled investor funds in personal account, deposited cash in other funds and used some for personal use, according Adams.
Swenson asked the court if Skaltsis could remain in Strafford County jail to allow his mother to visit him this weekend before being transported to State Prison.
Strafford County Sheriff David Dubois said he would consider the request if it arrives.