Man Charged with Faking Death Certificate to Delay Divorce

After an unusual twist in his Sullivan County divorce proceedings, a former Newport resident is facing a felony charge of falsifying evidence.

An indictment handed up by a Sullivan County grand jury last week alleges that John Kolozetski, 57, of West Palm Beach, Fla., doctored a death certificate to justify a continuance he requested in his divorce proceedings in Family Division Court in Newport.

Kolozetski told Judge Bruce Cardello that he needed a continuance because his uncle had died, but he later changed his story and said a Massachusetts woman with whom he claimed to have an illegitimate child had died, Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said yesterday.

But instead of bringing to court the death certificate of Janet Sellgren, Kolozetski presented a doctored death certificate for Hilda Hole of Rhode Island, Hathaway said.

“The death certificate of Hilda Hole was altered to appear as if it were the death certificate of Janet Sellgren,” he said.

A court copy of the altered certificate still shows the name “Hilda Hole” in the margin, but the top of the certificate reads “Janet Sellgren.”

Both women are dead, and Hathaway said there’s no evidence that Kolozetski knew either one or had an illegitimate child with Sellgren. Hathaway refused to speculate on Kolozetski’s motive.

Hathaway said the class B felony charge of falsifying physical evidence is part of an ongoing investigation led by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office. More charges may be forthcoming, he said.

Kolozetski is scheduled for arraignment in Sullivan County Superior Court May 11.

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