Windmill fraud case continues

ESCANABA – A plea deadline was recently extended for a Kincheloe man accused of scamming customers who purchased windmills from him more than two years ago.

Billy Lee Parish, 57, is charged with one count of embezzlement in connection with alleged fraudulent sales of windmills in Delta County from May through November 2011.

Parish was scheduled to set a trial or a plea date in Delta County Circuit Court last week, but his plea cutoff deadline was extended. He is now scheduled for a pretrial conference hearing on April 24 to decide whether to go to trial or make a plea.

The embezzlement charge of larceny by conversion greater than $20,000 carries a maximum 10-year prison term and a maximum fine of $15,000 or three times the amount of money involved.

Parish was arrested in Pennsylvania in December on 11 counts of false pretenses more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, each a five-year felony. When the case was bound over from district court to circuit court, the 11 charges were amended to the one 10-year count of embezzlement.

The charge involves 13 victims from Delta County. Parish is suspected of scamming nearly $100,000 from about 45 customers from throughout the Upper Peninsula. He is also suspected of similar incidents downstate.

Incidents involved Parish soliciting homeowners to purchase electricity-generating windmills. He allegedly took a minimum $2,000 down payment from the customers then partially completed the work or, in some cases, took the money and never returned, said police.

Parish fled the area in late 2011 after local police questioned him about the fraudulent sales complaints. After two years on the run he was located in Pennsylvania and transported to Delta County Jail. Bond is $10,000 cash.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,