Joint effort - Laconia Motorcycle Association joins forces for marketing with Daytona and Sturgis events


LACONIA — The Laconia Motorcycle Association has agreed to join forces with the other two major motorcycle rallies in the country for marketing and advertising.

Executive Director Charlie St. Clair said the agreement with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held annually in August and the Dayton Bike Rally held annually in March will bring more money into the Rally News, which, along with a new website and attendance at motorcycle shows, is the primary vehicle used for marketing Laconia Motorcycle Week.

"The money thing is tough," said St. Clair at a meeting at the Belknap Mill Thursday night held to gather feedback about last year's Motorcycle Week.

St. Clair said they are fortunate to have the major sponsors they have, like Progressive Insurance, Amsoil, and Hot Leathers, along with others. and support from its board members, which include the city of Laconia and town of Meredith, Faro Italian Grille, the Naswa, Ames Corporation, Hot Leathers and Weirs Action Committee. "We also enjoy the support of our rally patrons," he said.

St. Clair said there has been a proliferation of many smaller motorcycle events over the years, about 800 of them, and while he doesn't consider them "rallies" in the sense that Laconia's Motorcycle Week is, they are siphoning off some of the people from the three major United States events.

"This has never been done in this country," St. Clair said. "We're not competing. We complement each other. Any competition is a challenge. We want (motorcyclists) to come to one of the big three."

Board President Cynthia Makris welcomed back the Weirs Action Committee as a board member of the Laconia Motorcycle Association. The WAC withdrew from their position on the board in 2014 when, facing financial hardships, the Motorcycle Association restored its dues from $2,000 back to $5,000.

Over the summer and after the 2016 rally, the two sides reached a compromise such that the WAC would pay the $5,000 in dues and the Laconia Motorcycle Association would withdraw its bid for the parking concessions at Endicott Park.

Other information passed on to residents was that the New Hampshire Motor Speedway would be expanding its operations, which will include a North East Motor Sports Museum that will have a display at both of their scheduled NASCAR races and Laconia Motorcycle Week.

The speedway has also rejoined of Motorcycle Week Association as a board member.

For the first time, there were no complaints about policing, although both city and state police sent representatives to the conference. Those attending last night's meeting gave the police a round of applause for the great job they did this past year.

While some mention was made regarding the fiasco surrounding Laconia Fest, St. Clair said that the concept was a good one and he hopes that someone will come forward who can make a similar event work.

(Editor's note: This story has been edited to correct several errors regarding sports, the Motorcycle Week board, and other minor details. Also, the advertising costs will not be shared by the Sturgis or Daytona motorcycle events.)

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 759

Swindler who targeted FRM victims sentenced to almost six years


CONCORD — After hearing an elderly woman recount how being bilked out of more than $130,000 has affected her life, a judge handed down a 72-month prison sentence to the man responsible.

Breaking down in tears at one point, as her words in her native Greek were translated by a friend, the woman said she worked 15- to 16-hour days, seven days a week, for years, only to end up financing a lavish lifestyle of a man who had promised to help her.

"In one year, my house goes to auction. I'm going to be on the road with nothing," she told Judge Joseph DiClerico.

He later sentenced Ronald Mason, 47, most recently of Concord, to nearly six years in a federal prison, and ordered him to repay five victims $660,683.

Mason, a stout, tall man with short salt and pepper hair, was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and leg shackles flanked by two burly U.S. Marshals. He declined the opportunity to address the court and showed no signs of emotion throughout the late morning proceedings held in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

While defense Attorney Benjamin Falkner of Andover, Massachusetts, made eloquent arguments for leniency, the judge cited the defendant's lengthy records of convictions, all involving crimes of dishonesty, coupled with his defiant attitude towards the law as aggravated factors.

After pleading guilty to a federal securities fraud charge in Texas, Mason failed to show up for his sentencing and never repaid any of the more than $70,000 in restitution he was under court order to make.

"He walked away from his restitution obligation and served 33 months and it had no impact. This is a deep-seated character flaw and shows a defiant attitude towards the law, DiClerico said, prior to imposing a longer sentence than requested by the prosecutor.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kinsella said Mason's crimes were especially egregious as he targeted the same people who had already been victimized by Scott Farrah and Donald Dodge in the Financial Resources Management debacle, the largest fraud scheme in state history.

"When someone is sentenced for fraud, and not too long ago, and then goes out and commits another fraud there is justification for an incremental increase in the sentence," DiClerico said from the bench.

The defense attorney successfully argued to have one felony conviction against his client removed from the sentencing formula, after he was able to show that Mason was never brought to the courthouse and that his then lawyer had signed a document pleading guilty on Mason's behalf.

"Never in my career have I encountered a guilty plea in the absence of the defendant," Falkner told the judge.

"The paperwork shows the whole matter was prosecuted without Mr. Mason being in court. It's highly unusual for a felony, to say the least," the judge replied, before ruling that the conviction would not be considered, and as a result it would adjust the range of the sentencing guidelines downward to 46 to 57 months.

Falkner also argued that some of the victims were not as vulnerable as they appeared, maintaining that the report of a
Certified Public Accountant showed that there had been a large amount of financial transactions, many of them sophisticated and completed online.

"Money was just flying all around," he said.

"What is assured here is these victims were defrauded out of substantial sums of money, vulnerable or not," the judge replied.

The prosecutor argued for a 71-month sentence recounting that Mason was on supervised release for securities fraud when he made the "unconscionable decision" to mark those already fleeced in the FRM Ponzi-scheme coupled with the extraordinary steps he took to avoid paying back they money he took from his previous victims.

"He relentlessly pursued them," Kinsella said, telling the judge that Mason convinced a Laconia real estate agent to withdraw $44,000 from his retirement account and borrow money against his own home.

In support of his decision to impose the 71-month sentence, the judge said, factors he considered included Mason's criminal record that dates back to 1995 when he was just 26 years old, as well as the need to protect the public. After completing his prison sentence, Mason will remain on supervised release and must pay $250 a month towards restitution unless he can prove a financial hardship.

"Behind every fraud there are people who suffer," the judge said.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 771

She went for a job at jail, got arrested instead

LACONIA — A woman who applied for a job at the Belknap County jail found herself arrested instead when a routine background investigation found she was wanted on an extraditable warrant issues by Bexar County in Texas.

Amanda Rivers, 30, no address given, was arrested and held without bail Wednesday night after Texas authorities said they would bring her back to Texas on charges for forgery of a commercial instrument or check, and misdemeanor criminal trespass on private property. She had applied for a job as a Belknap County corrections officer

Sheriff's Deputy Steve Colcord, who is assigned to the U.S. Marshal's Joint Fugitive Task Force, said Rivers' fingerprints matched those on record in Texas.

He said she was arraigned Thursday afternoon in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division and ordered held on $2,000 for allegedly being a fugitive from justice.

Colcord said there is a hearing scheduled for next week because Rivers has not agreed to be extradited to Texas.

– Gail Ober

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 1166