A man has been arrested after he allegedly posed as a nondenominational minister at a wedding and now faces charges of impersonating a justice of the peace and theft.
James C. Stern, 39, of Portsmouth, N.H., was taken into custody by the Middleton Police Department in Middleton, R.I., according to the Yarmouth, Mass., Police Department on Wednesday.
A warrant was issued by the Yarmouth Police Department for Stern’s arrest after police received a call from a woman who said multiple members of her bridal party had received notifications of credit card misuse after her Sept. 15 wedding.
The bride, Ashley Veilleux, who goes by her married name, Ashley Mellen, on Facebook, spoke with Yarmouth police on Oct. 5 about the issue at the event and added that Stern had served as the officiant at her nuptials, according to the department’s Facebook page.
Police wrote on Facebook that the fraudulent credit card charges were just part of a trail of wrongdoing by the unofficial officiant.
According to information posted to the police department’s Facebook page, a search of the man who claimed to conduct a legal marriage ceremony revealed a long list of crimes, including identity fraud, fraudulent use of a credit card, and related larceny charges, dating back to 1994. It was also confirmed that Veilleux’s marriage to her groom was invalid.
“Stern was required to submit the license to the state within 10 days of the marriage and he had not,” the Facebook post reads. “The Town of Yarmouth Clerks Office contacted the Secretary of State’s office to determine whether the officiant had been properly commissioned and was informed that he had not obtained a commission to perform the wedding.”
It turns out that Veilleux and husband Dave Mellen aren’t the only ones who had an illegitimate wedding ceremony officiated by Stern. Since news broke that their marriage was a sham, Veilleux has gotten in touch with a number of other brides who are now attempting to track down their marriage licenses that were allegedly filed by Stern.
Despite multiple fraudulent weddings, however, Veilleux tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Stern had great reviews on multiple reliable wedding websites.
“I was originally researching photo booths and uplighting, and James Stern’s business ‘An Amazing Day’ was highly recommended on the Knot and WeddingWire. It stated on their sites that he had won multiple awards and had excellent reviews by others,” she said. Although she eventually developed a negative gut feeling about her choice to use him as an officiant.
Veilleux says that Stern was highly involved in the process leading up to her wedding — until he was paid. After that, he was difficult to contact and ultimately showed up to the wedding rehearsal looking “unkempt.” When she found out that bridesmaids were receiving notices of fraudulent charges, Veilleux immediately suspected that it was Stern.
Now, just one day after calling him out on their Facebook page, Yarmouth police confirm that Stern is in custody.
Veilleux has since thanked friends and followers for their support, including those who have offered to marry the couple and provide a venue with other services. However, she says that she and Mellen plan to have a small ceremony at a local restaurant in Cape Cod, Mass., with an intimate guest list.
“I feel like we have turned a negative situation into a positive one,” Veilleux says. “This man is forever in our photos and videos, we can’t change that, but we can share with others and have been making a difference.”
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