Con artist who victimized people in Wisconsin and other states captured in Illinois

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MADISON (WKOW) — A man who claimed to be an attorney and swindled people in Wisconsin and other states in the region has been arrested in Illinois.

John Ryan, 33, was taken into custody Friday in Lake County.

The Deerfield Police Department says he was trying to buy a car at a dealership and the salesperson was suspicious, so they googled “John Ryan” and saw the articles done recently on him.

Ryan is now in the Lake County jail with no bond. He may face charges in Illinois and may be extradited to Miami to face charges there too.

27 News reported earlier this month that Ryan maintains he is the senior managing partner at a law firm in Miami.

“He’s not even a licensed lawyer,”  Milly Santana of Miami told 27 News.  Santana says before she became aware of Ryan’s impostor status, she made him counsel for her attempt to collect an insurance settlement.

“I sign a retainer contract with him, I pay him $1,000 up front,” Santana says.

That’s the close to the sum of money on a check Ryan provided to Manitowoc attorney Nate Johnson for representing him in a Dane County criminal case.  Court records show the check came back to Johnson after a deposit as coming from a closed account.

Ryan’s Dane County crime involved a 2013 felony case of domestic violence at a Middleton hotel.

Wisconsin security professional Robert Wooten says he responded to an upper floor of the hotel to discover Ryan strangling a woman.  He and a security colleague stopped Ryan and restrained him until police could arrive.

“He may have even said something to the effect of he was an attorney…(and) that…was going to be the end of my career,”  Wooten tells 27 News.

“He was completely out of control,”  Wooten says.

Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokesperson Claire Hendricks says Ryan was sentenced to probation in 2013, with the probation revoked the next year and Ryan sent to a state prison.

Ryan’s time in Wisconsin’s criminal justice system included an escape from custody for eight months. State officials say Ryan was caught when he responded to a state office near the state Capitol to clarify information about what turned out to be dozens of fictitious businesses he created.

Hendricks says Ryan was released from Waupun Correctional Facility in August.  A few months later, Ryan was circulating in Miami’s business circles and duping Santana.  Santana says Ryan assured her he was working on earning her an accident settlement.

“I call USAA and they confirm they paid him $15,900 dollars,”  Santana says.

Before surfacing in Florida, Ryan was also convicted of identity theft in Illinois, earning a probation sentence.  He posed as an attorney in Cook County.  Deerfield Patch reports Illinois authorities also confirmed other victims of ID theft by Ryan in Kentucky and Texas.

“Stop with the scam, pay the money, the money doesn’t belong to you, everybody knows who you are already, stop it,”  Santana urges.

A request for comment left on Ryan’s voice mail earlier this month at a law firm identified as Harding and Pierce produced no opportunity to interview the elusive Ryan.

Tony Galli

Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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