Carlton H. Winsor, formerly of Wickford but now living in Tallahassee, Fla., appeared before a Superior Court judge in Rhode Island on Friday morning.
Winsor, 74, was ordered back to the state after the NBC 10 I-Team revealed he had never served a two-year prison sentence he received in 1988 for a conspiracy to commit arson conviction.
He and another man were hired by the owner of an ambulance company to burn down the company's offices so the owner could collect on an insurance policy.
The I-Team received an anonymous letter stating that Winsor had been "bragging" to friends that he got away with not serving his sentence.
After his conviction, Winsor appealed. His appeal was denied in March 1990.
The NBC 10 I-Team investigation showed that a clerical error was made in Rhode Island's court system. Someone did not formally advise Winsor, as required, that his appeal had been denied and that he should report to court to be ordered to prison.
After the I-Team aired its report, Superior Court Judge Melanie Thunberg sent Winsor a letter in Florida, demanding that he appear in her court.
Winsor, who appeared to be frail and walked with a limp, appeared in court but had little to say to the judge.
Thunberg gave Winsor 120 days to file a motion for a sentence reduction. She also ordered Winsor to stay in Rhode Island until his legal matters were resolved.
"Carl Winsor was a local character. If you spent any time in Wickford, you knew Carl Winsor," North Kingstown Police Chief Thomas Mulligan said.
As he left the courthouse, Winsor declined to answer questions from reporters.