Jailed N.H. legislator has criminal record in several states
Legal woes span two decades
FRANKLIN, N.H. - A New Hampshire legislator in jail for violating an order in a forgery conviction has a criminal record in several states that goes back two decades, according to court records.
James Ryan, 50, of Franklin is in jail for failing to pay the last $9,675 of the more than $35,000 in restitution ordered after pleading guilty in 1992 to four counts of forgery and two counts of passing bad checks.
He was arrested last week.
According to The Citizen of Laconia newspaper, court records show legal problems from the mid-1980s, with arrests in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
In 1986, he was convicted in Connecticut of larceny and issuing a bad check. In 1988, he was convicted of forgery. Records indicate he surrendered his law license and moved to Massachusetts, where he was convicted in the next five years of several crimes, including larceny and the unauthorized practice of law, records show.
After later moving to Freedom, a small town near the Maine border, he was convicted of issuing bad checks.
In 1994, he pleaded guilty to misrepresenting himself as an attorney and accepting money from clients of a Manchester law firm where he was hired as a paralegal.
In 2001, the state tried to have a judge impose a suspended sentence from an earlier conviction, arguing that Ryan has run a "clandestine" law office and posed as a lawyer while working at the Manchester firm.
At a court hearing, Ryan's probation officer said he thought that if Ryan were on the street, he would be repeating his offenses.
"He has devoted his life as far as I can see it with a life of crime," the officer testified.
In the 1992 case that led to the restitution order, Ryan pleaded guilty to four counts of forgery in Carroll County Superior Court. During the sentencing hearing, former County Attorney Warren Lindsey told a judge that, had the case gone to trial, the state would have been able to prove that Ryan had stolen two checks from his former wife, Patricia, and then cashed them without her authority for $8,000.
Ryan, who represents Franklin and Hill in the State House, also admitted he had entered into a personal and professional relationship with a Weare real estate agent. The state charged that Ryan falsely represented himself as a lawyer specializing in taxation and offered to manage the agent's business accounts and personal finances. He was charged with writing checks for nearly $4,000, which bounced, on her accounts.