Yarmouth police didn’t have to go far to search for the wedding officiant accused of not being licensed to perform that service. He was already in a Rhode Island jail.
James C. Stern, 39, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island is being charged with impersonating a public official —justice of the peace — and larceny of $1,200 by false pretense.
The charges stem from the wedding of Ashley Veilleux and David Mellen, the Agawam couple that held their ceremony on Cape Cod on Sept. 15 only to find out their marriage wasn’t valid because Stern doesn’t carry the proper credentials. A couple of bridesmaids also found their credit cards had been improperly used.
Yarmouth police said on Facebook that they were looking for Stern.
On Wednesday, the department said in a subsequent post that they found out Stern was already in Rhode Island’s Adult Correctional Facility. He awaits an Oct. 31 court date there.
Stern was arrested in Rhode Island while Yarmouth police were investigating what happened at the Veilleux-Mellen ceremony, according to Deputy Chief Steven Xiarhos.
“We filed the warrant, so they know there’s a warrant for his arrest,” Xiarhos said, referring to Rhode Island law enforcement. “And we’ll work on getting him to Massachusetts when the time is right.”
“The good news is he’s in custody and he won’t go anywhere,” he said.
Through their investigation, Yarmouth police found Stern has criminal charges that stem back to 1994. He also has a warrant from New Jersey for a burglary and has a “lengthy criminal history in Rhode Island and Connecticut,” Yarmouth police said.
What’s concerning is there could be other couples whose weddings were officiated by Stern, Xiarhos said.
“We’re also pretty sure there’s other victims out there that probably don’t even know,” he said.
When asked how she feels knowing that Stern will be charged, Veilleux said, “It’s a relief.”
Veilleux’s been contacted by six or seven other brides who are concerned about their own weddings officiated by Stern, she said. A detective in Narragansett also called her and said people have been calling there regarding their own weddings.
Mellen, Veilleux’s fiance who works on an oil rig, will be home next week, Veilleux said. The couple finalized plans for a second, official ceremony on Nov. 10 with their parents and close friends.
“I do plan on wearing my wedding dress again,” Veilleux said. “I figured not many brides get to do that again.”