Windmill scam case back in court

ESCANABA – A Kincheloe man will be sentenced on June 3 for scamming 13 Delta County residents out of more than $20,000 in fraudulent sales of windmills in 2011.

Billy Lee Parish, 57, pleaded no contest to one count of larceny by conversion, $20,000 or more, during a plea hearing in Delta County Circuit Court on Friday.

In addition to the 10-year felony above, Parish will be sentenced as a second offense habitual offender which will increase his prison term. He was previously convicted of felony forgery in Delta County in 1998.

In exchange for Parish’s no contest plea, the prosecution agreed to dismiss a fourth offense habitual offender notice. The defense and prosecution also agreed to a minimum sentencing contract of 48 months, or four years. Restitution to victims will be determined.

Because the defendant made a no contest plea, he did not have to explain to the court what he did. Judge Stephen Davis used the police report to determine what happened.

Reviewing the report, Davis said the incidents occurred from July 27 to Oct. 14, 2011, involving Parish’s windmill sales business. Down payments totaling more than $20,000 were received from 11 sales of windmills.

Davis said Parish did not use the deposit money as promised for the windmills but fraudulently converted the funds for his own use, spending the money on his day-to-day bills and living expenses.

Parish is suspected of scamming nearly $100,000 from about 45 customers from throughout the Upper Peninsula, according to area police. 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 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 in December and transported to Delta County Jail.

Paris was originally arrested 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 last month, the 11 charges were amended to the one 10-year count of embezzlement.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net