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The 'Jesse James' of New England community theater40:43
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Audience in a theater, 1935. (Archive Holdings Inc./Getty Images)
Audience in a theater, 1935. (Archive Holdings Inc./Getty Images)

People will tell you Richard Bento is a good actor — on and off the stage. Over the past decade, he's been a pillar of the New England community theater scene - acting in and directing countless productions, and fostering the love of theater in other thespians.

But lately, he's been at the center of some real life dramas swirling behind the scenes,  involving accusations of fraud, embezzlement, and other kinds of scams. After disappearing from one local theater for a time, he's been known to pop up at another and pull his stunts all over again, leaving a wake of mistrust and missing funds behind.

Reporter and producer Quincy Walters (WBUR) investigates Bento’s con artistry and his most recent vanishing act.


Show notes: 

Special thanks to Tony Light, Sue Nedar, Marie Knapman, and Jason Hair-Wynn for lending their voices to this story. Thanks to Regan Jones for legal expertise, and to Stoughton Media Access for archiving Richard’s appearances.


Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text. 

[Phone Call:

*PHONE RING* 

*PHONE RING*

*PHONE RING*

Richard Bento: Hello?

Quincy Walters: Hi - Hi. Is this Richard? 

RICHARD: Yep. Who's this? 

Quincy: Hi Richard. My name is Quincy Walters, I'm a reporter at WBUR. How are you? 

[BEEPING]

Quincy: He hung up.]

Nora Saks: Hey Quincy. Who was that?

Quincy: That was Richard Bento, a guy whose story I’ve been following for so long that my mom won’t let me bring his name up anymore. 

Nora: Why won’t your mom let you bring up his name? 

Quincy: Because for the last year and a half anybody who knows me has gotten an earful about Richard Bento.

Nora: Yeah, what's your fascination with this guy?

Quincy: So, Richard is well-known in the New England regional community theater scene.

Nora: There's a community theater….scene?

Quincy: Yeah. It’s a tight knit group of people united by their love of theater. Some have professional training, many don’t. But it’s supposed to be a space where everyone can have fun and explore acting freely, without judgment, and with a lot of trust. 

And in this scene - Richard has had a big impact on people’s lives. He’s passionate, ambitious, big personality. And he does it all - he sings, acts, directs. He even founded his own theater company in southeast Massachusetts. But, he has this other side too and that's why I've been following him.

Nora: And this other side to him is…?

Quincy: Well, he tends to leave a big mess wherever he goes. And then poof - disappears - without a trace. He’s left a trail of breadcrumbs that span three states and two decades. And that’s why I wanted to find him.

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Nora: Did you?

Quincy: I'm about to tell you.

Nora: Welcome to Last Seen - a show about people, places and things that have gone missing. And whether or not they can, or even should, be found. From WBUR, Boston’s NPR Station. I’m Nora Saks.

Today on the show, producer Quincy Walters investigates Richard Bento’s vanishing act. This is Episode 9: The Bad Actor.

Quincy: Before two years ago, you couldn’t find anyone who would deny that Richard really did foster the love of theatre in young thespians.

A local public access tv channel covered a lot of his productions and they’d get behind the scenes footage and interview the actors.

[NEWSCAST:

Host: So, how about yourself? How did you first get involved with South Shore Theatre Works. 

Ashley: I was actually at a show in a different company with Richard and I liked Richard as the director so much that when he started South Shore Theatre Works, I came and I followed him. And I’ve been in almost every show ever since because he’s that good of a director.]

Quincy: That’s Ashley Yankoff, a young actress. She played one of Ariel’s sisters in Richard’s production of The Little Mermaid Jr. back in 2017.

There's this recording of one of Richard's rehearsals and you can see why kids - heck, even adults, would enjoy working with him. He's so animated, waving his hands around and demonstrating what he wants the scenes to look like.

[REHEARSAL TAPE:

Richard: It is fast, ladies. Okay. But Jen, do you have it with the lyrics on there. Let’s do it so we can learn what we’re doing with the words] 

Quincy: Richard made sure his theater was a place where aspiring kid and adult actors could get coaching and stage time. Nurturing that kind of growth meant a lot to him.

[NEWSCAST:

Host: So you said that's the best part of this of my job, but really, this is a non paid job. it is a labor of love that you do.

Richard: Of course, It is. This does take up a lot more of my time than my nine to five job. This is my passion. It's my drive. You know, there are things that we do out of love and out of passion. And for me, theater is what that is. And so that for me, there is no price tag to it.]

Quincy: But as much as Richard likes to wax philosophical about being a good coach — he also likes the spotlight.

[RICHARD SINGING: All my life, I’ve long to discover something as true as this is...]

Quincy: He’d often cast himself in lead roles. In a way, it seems, he’d command attention in any room with his big personality. This is how one of his peers memorably described him.

[NEWSCAST: I’m not trying to be unkind. He was a chubby unattractive very effeminate gay portugese kid. And the theatre world accepted him, because the theatre world is just very accepting.]

Quincy: The community theatre world, even moreso. Because it doesn’t quite matter what you look like or even if you’re a star performer. As long as you’re passionate and are compassionate, you’ll have a place in community theatre, it seems.

That refuge was lost in 2020, with the start of the pandemic. All of a sudden - community theaters across the country were shuttered.

Except for one.

[RICHARD BELTING: “I’ll COVER YOU!! YEAH YWAH WOAH AH!”] 

Quincy: Richard Bento first came onto my radar in the summer of 2020. It was sometime in July, when a coworker gave me a scoop about some real life drama unfolding with her sister’s community theater in Massachusetts - South Shore Theater Works. Richard’s company.

She sent me screenshots of a post on Facebook from a whistleblower - bringing attention to licensing violations committed by the theatre company.

Tony Light: The purpose of my open letter was to call him out for the information that I did have actual proof that he was doing something illegal.

Tony light was a theatre tech for South Shore Theatre Works, which at the time was trying to put on two youth productions — Newsies and Legally Blonde.

Now in order to perform any play or musical - you actually have to pay to secure the rights to perform it. And Richard was making each young person involved cough up $150 to cover that expense. One kid got a summer job to get the money. Another kid said they got their money from a memorial scholarship fund.

Tony thought it was…strange…that Richard was ambitiously trying to put on two shows while the rest of the theatre world was on hiatus. He worried Richard was sacrificing the kids’ health and safety for his own benefit.

Suspicious, he contacted the licensing company to see if Richard even had the rights to perform these shows. He did not.

This didn’t surprise Tony, because South Shore Theatre Works had gotten in trouble with other licensing companies. A spokeswoman for one told us Richard's on their red flag list, and he's "a bad actor".

Tony: He told people that it was simply a misunderstanding and that he did have the rights. It was just a misunderstanding and that's why he ended up having to pay a fine.

Quincy: Tony says he was hoping that people who’d be affected would see his post and it would prevent people from falling prey to Richard again. And then, the admins of the Facebook page deleted Tony’s post. Publicly, they said it was because Richard’s alleged transgressions didn’t fall under their purview. But Tony says he feels like they just didn't wanna be potentially sued for libel.

Tony says he went to Boston’s CBS station, and never heard back. And then I called him.

Tony: I want to focus on the events at hand. I know that Richard has a sordid past. I know that in the past he’s done this and I see how that is relevant, as showing repetitive behavior. But again, I'm not interested in dragging his character here. I'm not interested in bringing up his past. I just want him and the theater group to be held accountable for what I have caught them doing red-handed.

Quincy: And just like the admins of the Facebook page, Tony didn’t want to mention the so-called rumors, because he didn’t want to risk getting sued by Richard for slander. Tony had Richard’s number on hand. It was, of course, important to allow Richard to speak for himself. That’s when I called Richard- and he hung on me.

[PHONE CALL:

Quincy: Hi Richard. My name is Quincy Walters, I'm a reporter at WBUR. How are you? 

Richard: [SILENCE] [BEEPING]

Quincy: He hung up.]

Quincy: Sometime after that phone call, Richard sent out an email to the kid actors and their parents to "apologize for all of this." He wrote that he never intended to hurt anyone in any way. He offered to refund the money if people asked. No one I’ve spoken to, who asked for their money back, has gotten it. While South Shore Theater Works was reeling from Richard’s abrupt departure, it turns out that local thespians were not surprised.

This story fit a pattern of behavior I discovered corroborated by court documents, numerous interviews, and emails that streamed into my inbox from the summer of 2020 into 2021. Some of them from people who were afraid of Richard and what he might do. People who didn’t know each other but ended up confirming what someone else had experienced.

And since Richard didn’t want to talk to me, I had to find clues elsewhere.

[PUBLIC ACCESS TV MUSIC]

Quincy: That got me watching a lot of public access TV. Here’s Richard soliciting donations for his non-profit theatre company on a local channel.

[NEWSCAST:

Richard: Roy, what kinda nonprofit would I be if I’m not looking for sponsorships? 

Host: Okay

Richard: Of course, we have wonderful sponsorship opportunities.]

Quincy: Except that according to the IRS, his non-profit status has already lapsed by the time he went on air. Still, he is sorta beguiling, even when his veneer cracks a little.

[NEWSCAST:

Richard: For anyone who’s ever worked with me, as an actor, or on stage or a director… one thing they will say is that I’m passionate, borderline maybe a little bit - 

Host: Like mega lunatic? 

Richard: Well, aren’t we all? We’re a little crazy but that’s okay. 

Host: There was no — do you notice how quickly he didn’t deny it? There wasn’t even a hint of ‘well, not really’ it was more like ‘no, yes. Of course.]

Quincy: But not everyone thinks Richard is charming or funny or cute.

Sue Nedar: My name is Sue Nedar and I live in Swansea, Massachusetts, and I founded a nonprofit community theater company called Footlights Repertory Company in 2010.”

Quincy: Sue calls Richard “the Jesse James of community theater” and she wishes she never met him. She got to know him in 2011, when he was directing their production of Jesus Christ Superstar. And he was playing the role of Judas – you know, that disciple who betrayed Jesus for a little bit of silver …

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Sue: Well, looking back, you know, hindsight is 20/20, we would look back at that production and call it my Liza Minnelli Judas, because he really was just Liza Minnelli in a Judas costume.”

Quincy: During the production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Sue kept fielding complaints about how Richard treated people -

Sue: He was very mean. He had a very mean streak, and he treated people rudely and very unkindly, you know.

Quincy: After she’d heard enough, she confronted him.

Sue: It's supposed to be fun. We were a community theater, for heaven's sakes. It's not like these people were getting paid to do this. They were all volunteering except for him! When I'd had enough of that, I pulled him aside and I said, look, we can't have this. And then I got the tears and listen, I'm going through cancer treatment and it makes me very cranky. And you need to make people understand that  I can’t continually repeat myself. And it was this whole big good lord in heaven. What an academy award-winning performance. “I had a meeting with the cast minus him. And I said, look, this is what he told me. He has cancer. And his voice is strained . .  . but it wasn't long after that that nobody believed it.

Quincy: It seemed to Sue that whenever Richard found himself confronted with accountability, he’d say he had an ailment. Other people I've interviewed made similar observations.

Without talking to Richard or his doctors, there’s no way to know he didn't have those afflictions. But Sue says if he were really telling the truth, he’d probably be dead by now.

Eventually, Sue says, the cast turned against Richard - threatening to leave the company. But she convinced them to stay, promising that their subsequent production would be their last working with Richard as director.

And even though he was already on her s*** list, Sue says Richard still managed to wreak havoc. She had given Richard money to pay their set builder. And mysteriously, the money never made it to the set builder. Sues says that, paired with the increasingly flimsy-looking cancer story was the final nail in the coffin.

Sue: I told him, I said, pack your stuff and leave. I don't want you here anymore. I don't want anything to do with you anymore. We are officially parting ways and I will find someone to pick up where you left off with this show. And he begged me and pleaded with me and he said he was sorry and he would never do it again and he would never lie to me again and blah blah blah. And I was so angry.”

Quincy: Sue was also angry because she lent Richard money. She says he told her he needed to borrow some cash to secure housing and that he’d pay her back in two weeks time. There was no housing arrangement and Richard didn’t pay her back. A Massachusetts judge ordered him to pay her nearly $3,000 in 2013. He never showed up in court.

Sue guesses Richard owes her an additional $7,500 to $10,000 - money she says she loaned him after he told her he needed money for cancer treatment or he needed money for medication to treat HIV. And she never expects to see that money again. Sue says Richard squandered her kindness.

She just feels lucky she didn’t let Richard near her theater’s finances. And like Paul Revere’s midnight ride, she’s made it her mission to warn everyone about the impending arrival of tyrannical force. When Sue learned that Richard had gone on to work for a community theatre in nearby Bristol, Rhode Island - she suspected he might also try to pillage their trust and wallets. So she tried to thwart his attempt.

Sue: No one listened to me. I remember having the conversation with those poor, wonderful people from Bristol Community Theater, and they got angry at me. They were angry at me. How could you say anything about him? He's wonderful. He's wonderful, you know? And I was just like, OK, like, just remember that I told you this and good luck.

Quincy: Richard Bento strikes again in Bristol, in a minute.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

[STREET SOUNDS] 

Quincy: And so is this the building here where the theater used to be?

Marie Knapman: Yes. That’s where we used to be - the old Reynolds school building. Right now we’re in storage.

Quincy: Marie Knapman is the president of the Bristol Theater Company  We're standing across the street from where the company used to perform. Richard had worked there years before Marie took helm of the theatre. And then returned after a long time away to direct and act in Once On This Island.

Marie says the company had recently heard some rumors about Richard, that he had left a few other companies and no one would say why, exactly. But that was it. Maybe he was unreliable, but -

Marie: I thought he was talented. I was happy to have someone with the talents he brought to the table. And I didn't know him well, obviously at that point, but I didn't have any major red flags or even minor red flags.

Quincy: And they got close. Marie says Richard would come to her home and have dinner with her family. She says her kids looked up to him.

But if there’s one thing I’ve heard from people over and over again since embarking on this reporting journey, it’s that you can probably rely on him to vampire your kindness and steal from you. A year into Richard’s return, the theater’s finances weren’t adding up. Initially, they thought it was a miscalculation.

Marie: Checks that like he would say to the treasurer, I need to pay the lighting guy, but I don't know how much it is. So leave it blank and I'll fill it out or I don't know who we’re paying this to.

Quincy: And then, the treasurer couldn’t access the theater’s bank account because the password had, for some reason, been changed. It was a Sunday night when Marie got a call from the theater’s treasurer. And they realized they had made a miscalculation - in trusting Richard. 

Marie: They called me and said, we need to talk. There's something strange going on, and we think that Richard's embezzling from us. And I said, Well, come to the house and we sat for like two hours and went over stuff. And I said, Oh, absolutely, he is, and we're going to the police the next morning.

Quincy: They figured out that in 2012 and 2013, Richard had slowly siphoned nearly $15,000 from the theater. Small amounts at first, over a long period of time. And then the last month or two, his boldness seemed to escalate, with bigger amounts being withdrawn.

Marie: I think I was surprised at the extent of it. You know, money's coming in, we're paying the bills, we're managing our overhead and we're skating by which is what community theaters do. So it wasn't a huge thing until we started hearing from vendors that invoices have been doctored.

Quincy: Surveillance footage from the bank’s drive-through showed Richard cashing checks. It was all there.

Marie could clearly see evidence that Richard had been hemorrhaging funds from them almost in plain sight. The warnings she heard and ignored years ago were now crimson red flags. Marie and others from the theater confronted Richard.

Marie: He had every excuse in the book that it was someone else. Someone was setting him up. He was, you know, but then we got pictures from the bank that showed him in the drive-through with the checks that he was cashing.

Quincy: In March 2014, the Bristol police arrested Richard and charged him with embezzlement, fraud, and several counts of obtaining money under false pretenses. And he was sentenced to pay restitution. That was the last time Marie saw him.

Quincy: Does Richard still owe you money? 

Marie: I believe we collected half of the just about $14000 that he owed us. So about half of that is still outstanding. 

Quincy: Bristol County court records backup what Marie says. And that he hasn’t made a payment in about three years. That lack of payment resulted in another warrant for his arrest being issued in 2019.

Marie: I don't foresee us ever getting any money, more money from him. I don't have any hope that anything's really going to be done. It's not considered a huge crime, you know.

Quincy: I guess she means “it’s not considered a huge crime” in the eyes of the law. But, as far as I know, this is Richard’s biggest money grab as a Judas archetype.

Because of the pandemic, the Bristol Theater Company took a big financial hit. That’s why they’re in storage now. And even though Marie doesn’t expect Richard to pay the rest of what he owes, she can’t help but think about how it’d help the community theater regain some footing.

Marie says she wants Richard to know that her theatre company has moved on. And they haven’t really revisited what happened until I called them years later to talk about it.

Marie: It's hard. It's hard to admit you were stupid enough to let this happen, you know? 

Quincy: You’re not stupid. Maybe too trusting. 

Marie: Well, I know naive, naive enough to let this happen. 

Quincy: Yeah, somebody said that, you know, somebody asked, You know, why community theater, if you're like a good crook, there's more opportunity to make more money. But somebody said that it's like a place where there is a lot of trust and very little oversight.  

Marie: Yeah, absolutely.

Quincy: Marie had no idea where Richard ended up. But Sue Nedar had a hunch.

Sue: Richard Bento has a history of hiding in his parent's basement every time he gets caught

Quincy: You said he lives in the basement. How do you know? 

Sue: I don’t know if he lives in the basement. He lives with mommy and daddy. He's thirty-what? Failure to launch.

Quincy: Last summer, I decided to pay a visit to the address listed for Richard. It’s also the address listed for his parents. Even though he hung up on me, blocked my number and ignored my emails, I wanted to give him another chance to speak for himself.

He’s practically down the road from some of the people who say he conned them- in Swansea, Massachusetts.

Quincy: All right, so I'm a minute away from Richard's house. I came here last year. Someone said if there was a yellow car in the driveway, that meant he was home. There was a yellow car in the driveway, but his dad said he was in the hospital. And someone was peeping through the blinds. That could have been Richard. It could have been his mom. But let's see if we have any luck. I'm about to turn the corner. Is there a yellow car in the driveway? There is no yellow car in the driveway. Actually, it looks like, nobody's home.

[KNOCK ON THE DOOR]

Quincy: Well, alright. I tried.

Quincy: It was kinda demoralizing being so close, yet again, to Richard and not making the connection. So, in my state of dejection, I went to Subway and ate a turkey and swiss sandwich in the car in the parking lot. And I went over so many notes. And people I wanted to talk to again.

There was the dad of the kid thespian who never second-guessed why his kid always got low-quality photocopied scripts for plays.

Parent: And there was little things here and there that we were like ‘maybe it was a mistake’ but now that we’re looking back at it, maybe it wasn’t.

Quincy: There was the treasurer who, after asking Richard about missing finances, was blamed by Richard and blackballed by the New England Community Theater scene.

Treasurer: He bad mouthed me to other members of the group, told people that I wasn't a good person. I've realized recently that he actually told people that I stole money from the group.

Quincy: There was this feeling that If I had a face-to-face with Richard, to get him to answer for his proven and alleged crimes, it’d allow me to carry out some modicum of justice that people have told me they need after all these  years.

And many of Richard’s victims still want him to be held accountable. Here’s Marie from Bristol again.

Marie: I'd like to see him go to jail where he can't do this to anyone anymore, but I don't see that happening. I think I feel the worst out of everything for his parents. I mean, I met them once and they were very sweet people, and I think he has just ruined their lives.

Quincy: His parents’ lives are a subject of discussion in numerous interviews. Some people I’ve spoken to say Richard told them his parents were deceased –that one died in a car accident and subsequently the other died of a broken heart. Some people feel Richard’s parents enable him.

[TRANSITION]

Quincy: I realized that most of the people I'd talked to weren't really close to Richard. Those who were didn’t want to talk to me for this story.  But someone who knew Richard well, or thought they did, is Jason Hair-Wynn, Richard’s old roommate from the early 2000s.

Jason Hair-Wynn: I’ve always been a great judge of character. I don’t know if part of that is my own anxiety or what it is, or my social anxiety. But you know, he just seemed like a good person.

Quincy: Jason met Richard in the fall of 2002 in a local theater production of West Side Story in Rhode Island. Jason says he was never one to make friends in theater. He was just there to do a job. Then, he met Richard.

Jason: When he started getting friendly with me, it was pretty surface level. 

Quincy: But a real friendship soon blossomed. Richard And Jason were young, hungry theater actors. And after closing night of the musical, Richard told Jason he got a job in New York City to work for the American Cancer Society - and an apartment. He asked Jason if he wanted to be roommates - and audition for Broadway shows. Jason was down. They arrived in New York, U-Haul packed with their earthly belongings -

Jason: And then he said “Oh, well something happened with the apartment. We don’t have an apartment. 

Quincy: And this gave Jason a bit of anxiety. But Richard came through, and eventually found them a one-bedroom apartment, not quite at the heart of Broadway. Way out in Brooklyn near Coney Island. Jason says it was an awkward arrangement. Richard took the bedroom while he slept in the living room.

Richard would leave early in the morning to go work and when he got back, he would tell Jason all about his day. It seemed like Richard was killing it at his job and getting one step closer to his Broadway dreams.

[NYC SUBWAY SOUNDS]

Quincy: Jason remembers being on the subway with Richard, and Richard getting callbacks from auditions.

Jason: And we didn't put two and two together that at that point in time, calls on the subway, you didn’t have reception. So he'd get these calls that would offer him a show and have this complete exuberant reaction to it. And we were excited for him. But, you know, looking back on it, it's like, how stupid could we have been? That this happened in the subway.

Quincy: What are some of the things that he would say, like when he was on the phone or how would that go?

Jason: He’d be like, hello? Yeah. Yeah. Oh, my God, you're kidding me. Oh my god. It was just really over the top.

Quincy: When you do that, are you doing an impression of him? 

Jason: I'm doing an impression of him.

Quincy: It sounds pretty good. It's pretty good. 

Jason: Thanks. 

Quincy: When Jason would ask Richard if he could come see him perform, though, there’d always be an excuse as to why Richard dropped out of the production.  Over time, Jason got more and more suspicious of Richard’s behavior. He took it pretty far, even following him to work one day - and discovered that he went to an adult movie theater instead.

No one can say Richard doesn’t thoroughly love theater.

Quincy: Did you confront him about that, or…?

Jason: So I let it go on for quite a while where I just kept sort of banking up the lies until I had enough to really sit down and confront him about it. It all came out for me. 

Quincy: And what did he say?

Jason: He admitted to me that he had lied. He didn’t care that he lied. He just had this like yeah, oh (inmitates reaction). He had no remorse. He has no remorse. He has no feelings, which I think is the most bizarre thing. Even when he looks at you, it’s just dead.

Quincy: Talking to Jason made me realize just how long Richard has been deceiving people – in big ways, and small - even those who had considered him a friend.

Jason: I think Richard always played Richard in a role, which is always acting.

Quincy: Jason thought he was done with his fraudulent former friend. But then he saw pictures of Richard on WBUR’s website. And came to a startling and very creepy realization. In one picture, on Richard’s right arm, you can see a tattoo…

John: I said oh my god. He has the same tattoo I have on my arm.  And it’s not like a well-known scenario — I have “strength and skillful in the arts” in Runes. You know, that to me was a telltale sign.

Quincy: For years, Jason says, people told him Richard wanted to be him– or at least be very close to him. But seeing that tattoo on Richard’s arm after over a decade of dissolved friendship seemed to be the most concrete proof, in ink no less.

And Jason figured that with the story in the open, co-existing with the arrest warrant for Richard, he’d get to see some kind of justice done. Maybe he’d have to do community service. Or would be banned from local theatres. Something. Maybe Richard could get some counseling while he was at it.

But Jason didn’t have a lot of faith in the authorities.

Jason: Like I told you, even when I had when I had gone to the Swansea police - they know who he is. They know his name. I don’t know he hasn’t surfaced. He’s probably going to.

Jason says based on his experiences with Richard, he like Sue, also thinks Richard is probably hidden away at his parents’ place scheming his next move. Maybe he’ll pop up somewhere else – to continue his cycle.

John: If history repeats itself, That's what he's doing. I mean, right now is the perfect situation, right? People are hurting for jobs, theaters are hiring. He could go to Canada. I wouldn't put it past him.

Quincy: Other people I’ve interviewed have this theory too. That Richard won’t be able to help himself. And he’ll strike again. People only diverge on if they think he’ll change his name or not. Some say Richard loves himself, and thus, his name too much to change anything.

But there is a consensus: people are still hurt. Richard owes thousands of dollars and as many explanations or contritions or mea culpas.

Maybe Richard did skip town, as he’s been wont to do and people are just waiting for him to surface again.

Back in the Subway parking lot in Swansea, two miles away from the address listed for Richard and his parents, I realized I had come too far, both journalistically and geographically, to just turn around and drive the 50 miles back to Boston.

Quincy: I decided to come back and he’s here. Oh my gosh. The yellow car is in the driveway. So, let’s do this yo. 

Quincy: I walk up to the door and in my mind and in some ways my heart, I’m carrying all these questions and sentiments that people have for this man. And I ring the doorbell.

Quincy: The garage is opening. Hello. Hi. My name is Quincy Walters, I’m a reporter from Boston and I was looking for Richard. 

Dad: For Richard? He’s at home. 

Quincy: He’s inside? Okay.

Dad: Yeah.

Quincy: Standing outside, I was a little afraid. The story I wrote in 2020, I think, really thwarted his con. Fewer things are more dangerous than screwing with people’s money. Broadway World posted a story about it. A theater blogger called it “explosive”. And the people I’ve interviewed said they know he’s definitely seen it.

Quincy: My heart is racing right now. His dad said he was gonna go get him. 

Richard: Hello?

Quincy: As he emerged from the garage, eyes squinting from the sun, Richard looked different in real life than he had in the pictures. He’d traded his chinstrap beard for a full salt and pepper beard. He was wearing glasses. He looked more…lanky.

Quincy: Hi. Are you Richard? 

Richard: Yes. 

Quincy: I'm Quincy Walters, a reporter from WBUR. Do you know who I am or - ? No? Okay. Um, so last year I worked on a story about how you disappeared. And I was wondering if you would be willing to talk to me about that. 

Richard: No. Thank you very much. 

Quincy: No? Okay. Well, so the thing is it would give you a chance to sort of clear the air. People - 

Richard: No. I don't want to talk to anybody. Thank you. 

Quincy: Alright. 

Richard: Can you get off my property? 

Quincy: Yeah. Alright. Bye. Alright. Thank you. The dad just waved to me. Well...

Quincy: His dad looked kinda sad, resigned. And kinda did a “well, what can you do? Kids these days,” kinda shrug.

And for the most part, people who have been affected by Richard feel like the legal system may have had the same response. Since this is a story involving theatre, it’s only fitting to end on a soliloquy, so here’s mine.

I admit, a little part of me has wondered: What if Richard was the victim here? What if he’s been telling the truth all along? But then, I thought: what are the odds of the New England community theater community conspiring against this man? Since Richard won’t talk, I can only report on the evidence I have.

There’s the warrant in Bristol. People email me, saying he still owes them money. And there was a complaint filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office about that last con of his – allegedly stealing money from kids. And there’s been no movement on it.

A lot of people he damaged seem to be trying to move on.

As I mentioned, Richard has vanished from the stage - and the internet. Even public access TV has removed most of its content of him, without explanation, sometime after my story aired. I emailed them to ask about that, no response.

But here’s the conclusion for one Richard episode that’s still up, before the curtain drops. In just a few seconds it kinda illustrates how much of a bad actor Richard really is. And how no one has the time for it.

[NEWSCAST:

Steve Kelly: So, I only have 10 seconds left. What do you want to say Richard? 

Richard: Well, I want to thank you for having us on the show once again. And really being part of the community, because I think we hear, always that “it takes a village” and it really, truly does and with the - 

Steve: Wonderful. I gotta watch out about asking that last 10 seconds. Thank you all for watching. Have a great day.]

[END]

Quincy Walters Twitter Producer, WBUR Podcasts
Quincy Walters is a producer for WBUR Podcasts.

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Nora Saks Producer
Nora Saks is a producer with WBUR's podcast team. 

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