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Twenty years later, car salesman pays a price for bilking customers

By Karen Florin

Publication: The Day

Published May 24. 2013 4:00AM

A former car salesman who sailed to Canada 20 years ago to avoid being prosecuted for larceny finally resolved his criminal cases this week.

Manfred H. Rieder, who worked for several local car dealerships, had started making deals on the side to sell high-end cars and had bilked customers out of $56,000 in deposits, according to his court file.

Charged with several counts of larceny, he posted a $5,000 bond and fled the country, according to his court file. The last time he was seen in Connecticut, he was traveling in a boat called the Sunbeam, the same vessel he lived on when it was docked in the Thames River in Groton in June 1993. The New London state's attorney's office learned he had gone through customs at a Canadian port near Maine.

Rieder, a 65-year-old Austrian native, had stayed out of trouble for two decades, but Canadian immigration officials caught up with him. He was extradited to the United States in 2012 after spending time in a Canadian prison. Rieder has been held there in lieu of $49,000 cash since July 2012.

Rieder pleaded no contest Wednesday to fourth-degree larceny and failure to appear in court, agreeing to pay $2,000 in fines and make a $1,000 contribution to a victim's compensation fund. Following his sentencing Wednesday, he was to be turned over to the immigration officials.

State's Attorney Michael L. Regan said Canadian authorities had detained Rieder and were about to deport him to Austria when they discovered the outstanding charges in the United States.

"They found out he was wanted in Connecticut, and they called us," Regan said.

In order to bring Rieder to Connecticut, Regan said his office had to show Canadian authorities that "we could prove our case."

Regan said he agreed to reduce the charges based on the time Rieder spent in prison after being detained by Canadian authorities as well as on input from the victims.

Rieder has not been charged with any new crimes, and his attorney, Peter E. Scillieri, said his behavior in the early 1990s was "anomalous based on emotional and financial issues he was going through at the time."

Judge Susan B. Handy told Rieder he was fortunate that the victims have "mellowed" over time.

"Unfortunately, none of these people have ever been made whole and will never be made whole," Handy said.

k.florin@theday.com

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