CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) — Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. sentenced a Munster man to five years in prison for forgery.
Paul Monet Fontaine, 39, whom police have named a person of interest in the disappearance of his mother, Highland ophthalmologist Promila Mehta Paul, told the judge he made a mistake but is redeemable and has the ability to work and be a productive member of society.
Fontaine, who also uses the name Paresh Paul, admitted he conducted the sale of a black 2010 Toyota Rav4 owned by PMP Associates, a professional health care corporation providing medical services.
Fontaine signed the vehicle title indicating he was chief financial officer of the corporation when he sold the SUV on Sept. 13, 2011, to Frankies’ Auto Sales in Dyer for $17,750. Dr. Paul is listed as the registered agent, principal and secretary of PMP Associates.
The SUV was sold nearly six months after Dr. Paul disappeared after seeing patients on March 21, 2011, in her office. She was not reported missing until three days later. At the time of her disappearance, Fontaine lived with his mother in her Munster home.
John Argus of American Management Systems, is a court-appointed guardian of Dr. Paul’s estate who is working to protect and recover her assets. Asked by defense attorney Derrick Julkes, Argus said he was not aware Fontaine drove the SUV for at least one year before he sold it.
Deputy prosecutor David Urbanski argued for an aggravated sentence in light of Fontaine’s eight prior misdemeanor and two prior felony convictions. He referred to statements Fontaine made in his presentence investigation report in which he said he had an excellent relationship with his mother.
“That is a flat-out lie. She is essentially the victim in this case,” Urbanski said, calling Fontaine “a flimflam man.”
Julkes said his client sold the vehicle at a time when he was experiencing financial difficulties and was battling substance abuse. Julkes said Fontaine is ashamed of what he’s done and knows it was wrong.
The judge reduced the $17,750 in restitution to a judgment.
Fontaine said he had been through six or seven treatment programs. He told the judge he plans to appeal his sentence.
When Fontaine’s mother disappeared, Fontaine himself vanished for a few days. On March 26, 2011, five days after his mother was last seen making a bank deposit in Highland, Fontaine was detained by U.S. Border Patrol in San Ysidro, Calif., while crossing from Mexico on foot with no car, luggage or belongings. At the time, a national alert for him had been issued.
Mehta Paul’s 2001 gold Toyota Rav4 is missing.
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