CONCORD, N.H., March 28 -- A fugitive New Hampshire judge wanted for stealing millions of dollars from his law clients in the 1980s has been found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room, the state attorney general's office said Monday.
Authorities said John Fairbanks apparently committed suicide, perhaps after spotting a police investigator who had helped search for him.
Fairbanks, who had been sought since he disappeared in December 1989, was found Sunday night in his room at the MGM Grand Hotel with a plastic bag over his head. A note identifying him and other personal effects were found near the body.
Investigators said Fairbanks apparently checked in to the hotel Thursday night under an assumed name.
Fairbanks, a former district court judge and probate attorney in tiny Newport, N.H., was charged with stealing at least $2 million from law clients, friends and even his sisters. But some estimates put the amount as high as $5 million.
Fairbanks' home and a mansion he owned in Maine were seized and sold after his disappearance, and the proceeds divided among victims, but the amount fell far short of what they were owed.
Ironically, the police chief of Sunapee, N.H., Alan Soucy, who had been among the original investigators in the case, happened to be staying at the hotelon day of Fairbanks' death.
'It made me believe that maybe he had seen me because I happened to be in the casino this occurred in,' said Soucy.
Harold Creamer, a Reading, Mass., hardware store owner, lost a $130, 000 inheritance which Fairbanks was handling.
'Well, now we know where he is anyway, but I don't think we'll ever see any more of the money,' said Creamer.