BANGOR – Former Millinocket Town Manager James F. Kotredes almost missed his arraignment Thursday morning, but even the judge agreed it wasn’t his fault. The summons to appear in Penobscot County Superior Court was sent to Kotredes’ old address and returned by the post office as undeliverable.
Once Kotredes and an associate of his attorney, Daniel Pileggi, finally did arrive, the 43-year-old loudly and firmly pleaded innocent to the charge.
Kotredes, a resident of Brewer, was indicted earlier this month on a felony theft charge for allegedly using a town credit card to steal between $15,000 and $20,000 from Millinocket between 1995 and 1997 while he was town manager. The maximum penalty for the charge is 10 years in prison.
He was scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and Joseph Baldacci was written in as his attorney on the docket posted outside the courtroom. Baldacci told Justice Andrew Mead he had had no contact with Kotredes and had not been retained to represent him.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Roberts said he had no record of who was representing Kotredes. He also said the letter informing Kotredes of the date and time of the arraignment had been returned by the post office. Baldacci told the judge he would call his brother, Peter, also an attorney in Bangor, to ask if he was representing Kotredes.
About 15 minutes later, Baldacci returned to court and told Mead that he had called his brother, who had not been retained by Kotredes either.
“I took the liberty of calling Mr. Kotredes and reached him at his home,” said Joseph Baldacci. “He said he had not been informed of the arraignment today. He said that Dan Pileggi is his attorney. I told him that he needed to get to court immediately and he needed to have his attorney get to court immediately. I believe that in a short while he and his attorney will make an appearance before this court.”
Kotredes, dressed casually in blue jeans, a dark gray sweater and boots, arrived at about 10 a.m. As he entered the courtroom, he removed a black cap embroidered with an orange B on the front. The word coach was stitched across the back of the baseball cap. A few minutes later, attorney Sandy Rothera, an associate of Pileggi’s arrived to represent him.
Kotredes was visibly angry about not being properly notified of the arraignment. He spoke with an assistant court clerk at the back of the courtroom during a short recess prior to making his plea. In a loud voice, he claimed that he had been in contact with Penobscot County District Attorney Christopher Almy and the DA’s office did have his correct address. “This is politics,” he said, referring to the mix-up.
In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, Almy said the mix-up “was unfortunate but wasn’t political. We had one address and the [court] clerk’s office had another. The clerk did not get the updated address.”
In December 1998, Kotredes served 30 days of a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to stealing $11,000 from the Millinocket Youth Hockey Association. Kotredes stole the money when he was Millinocket’s town manager, a position he held from 1993 to 1997.
As part of his sentence, Kotredes also was placed on one-year probation and ordered to repay the money. He already has made restitution to the group.
Kotredes left the Millinocket post in 1997 to become city manager of Brewer. He resigned that post in the wake of his legal problems in Millinocket.
In announcing Kotredes’ indictment Dec. 4, Almy said the charges came as the result of a Maine State Police investigation requested by Millinocket officials, who conducted an internal audit of the books after Kotredes’ 1998 conviction. As town manager, he was the authorized user of a credit card issued to the town of Millinocket.
“The credit card was used for a variety of personal expenses,” said Almy when the indictments were handed up by the grand jury. Almy said items charged included clothing, meals, gasoline and other car expenses.
Kotredes denied the charge. “That’s ridiculous,” he said the day of the indictment. “There’s not one purchase there that didn’t go through council.”
Kotredes remains free on $5,000 bail. No trial date has been set.