By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
NASHUA — Stephan Condodemetraky isn’t going to prison just yet, despite getting a one and a half to five year sentence for stealing $125,000 from six of his Dusty Old Cars victims.
Hillsborough Superior Court-South Judge Charles Temple is allowing Condodemetraky to remain free on personal recognizance bail while he appeals the six felony convictions.
Temple said while it is Condodemetraky’s right to appeal, it is past time for the Bedford man reportedly at the center of one of the state’s largest frauds to finally take responsibility.
“The blame game is over,” Temple said. “The guilt lies with you. It’s pretty clear what the jury had to say.”
Dusty Old Cars was a massive consignment business started in Derry, and later moved to Nashua to accommodate the hundreds of classic cars being dealt. It was also a huge, multi-million dollar Ponzi-scheme, according to bankruptcy court records, with Condodemetraky taking in cars and investments and using the funds for his personal expenses and luxury purchases, prosecutors have said.
Under pressure from the state of New Hampshire and staring down possibly hundreds of lawsuits from angry consignment customers, Condodemetraky filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017. The business was liquidated, and the victims of the Dusty Old Cars scam ended up lucky if they got pennies on the dollar for their cars.
Seven years later, Condodemetraky finds himself scrambling to stay out of prison after he was convicted by a Nashua jury on six counts of theft from six different victims, two of whom have died since the saga began.
Temple told Condodemetraky on Tuesday his driving goal is to see the victims repaid for the money stolen. Condodemetraky also needs to serve some prison time, Temple said, as he clearly still does not take full responsibility.
Condodemetraky supplied the evidence of his lack of full remorse last week, during the first part of the sentencing hearing, when he addressed the victims in the courtroom. Temple said Condodemetraky started well with an apology, then veered off into a rant about the evidence of how the state prevented him from doing the right thing.
“These victims quite simply were looking for the compassion and empathy you showed your family, friends, and associates, and they saw, what I thought, was a rather prideful, arrogant denial of responsibility,” Temple said.
Temple said he spent as much time considering evidence and weighing the law as he has done for a recent homicide case. In the end, Temple ordered Condodemetraky to spend one and a half to five years in prison, with another seven and a half to 15 suspended for 10 years upon release.
The six victims were not in court Thursday, but past Dusty Old Cars victims are unhappy with the minimal sentence. Amy Sletten is not one of the victims related to Tuesday’s case, but previously had her classic MGB convertible taken by Condodemetraky. She’s been coming to every hearing she can for years and was left cold by the sentence.
“It’s not enough time. I don’t know when he will ever go to jail. It’s not a good thing,” Sletten said.
Christine Erickson and her husband Paul Erickson lost their 1932 Chevrolet and 1989 Mercedes to Condodemetraky. Like Sletten, she was not a victim in Tuesday’s case, but has been following the court proceedings for years. She wanted to see justice for her husband, who died in 2019. That has not happened, she said.
“I thought it was a joke,” Erickson said.
Condodemetraky plans to appeal the convictions to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and Temple is allowing him to remain out on personal recognizance bail pending the outcome of any appeal over the objection of Assistant Attorney General J.R. Davis. Davis said Condodemetraky represents a risk to reoffend while out on bail based on his total lack of remorse.
“The unrepentant nature of the defendant’s testimony at trial, and the defendant’s presentation in the sentencing phase, expresses in spades with a megaphone to the universe that he does not get it,” Davis said.
The next step for Condodemetraky is a restitution hearing to determine the schedule for repaying the six victims. During a conference to determine a date for that hearing, it was revealed by Condodemetraky’s attorney Bruce Kenna that the defendant has already scheduled a vacation for this summer in anticipation of being granted bail pending the appeal.