Con man now a con, man 

Con man Rick Stover kept spinning stories right up to the end, but his glib-tongued run of luck and evasion finally ran out in Macomb County Circuit Court last Thursday.

Stover, dressed in jail blues with cuffed hands hanging at his waist, had been on probation since October after pleading guilty to one count of embezzlement. As part of a plea agreement, he agreed to repay $80,000 to two former employers. But not a penny of restitution has been paid in the months since. And when Stover, aka Rickie Lee Stover, 46, failed to appear in court last month to explain why, Judge Edward Servitto issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Stover, 46, was arrested one day after Metro Times published a cover story about his case (“Trail of a con man,” Metro Times, May 14-20). When Stover, a Harrison Township resident, was apprehended in Roseville, police found a prescription pill bottle containing what field tests showed to be cocaine, according to court testimony provided by Stover’s probation officer.

Stover told the judge he had no idea how the drug ended up in the car of an unnamed woman friend he was riding with. He was stumped when asked to explain how it could be that the label on the bottle bore the name of his wife, Susan Stover.

“I’ve never seen that bottle,” he insisted.

During a search of Stover at the Roseville Police Station, cops allegedly found a packet of powder they identified as methamphetamine. Stover claimed the field identification was in error, and that the powder was purchased over-the-counter and was used in conjunction with pain medication for severe back injuries he claims to suffer.

In a last-ditch bid to stay out of prison, Stover also said that a lucrative business deal loomed on his horizon, and that a wealthy investor — who went unnamed — was willing to pony up $10,000 as an initial repayment to the two businesses Stover defrauded. The remainder would be forthcoming. But the only way for that to happen, said Stover, would be for the judge to place him on an electronic tether instead of locking him up.

Servitto was buying none of it. After Stover — who reportedly had at least $2,000 in cash on him when arrested — described a life of hardship that included the inability to keep a permanent roof over his family’s head, Servitto seemed to mock Stover, and with faux empathy said he understood what a hard road Stover has been forced to walk, then added that the victims of Stover’s crimes have had a difficult time of it as well.

And with that, he brought a surprisingly swift end to a case that has dragged on for four years. Servitto sentenced Stover to serve two-to-10 years in state prison. How much time he spends behind bars depends upon his behavior.

For Ron Bargman, a Warren businessman who claimed in July 1999 that Stover had embezzled more than $70,000 from him, the denouement was a long time coming. And it’s still not over. He and another former employer of Stover’s will begin searching to see if Stover has hidden assets in an attempt to satisfy civil judgments totaling $80,000 they have against him.

For Bargman, though, there was a finality in seeing Stover hustled off to prison.

“Now I can get on with my life,” he said. And then he thought about his answer, and added, “I made the statement before that getting justice shouldn’t be this hard. I still think that’s true.”

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