A state judge agreed, with conditions, that Malcolm Stewart can travel to several states for work.

And the lawyer representing Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart in the state’s civil lawsuit against the couple and their now defunct contracting company Castle Builders argued that the Stewarts should not be held liable for the liabilities of the business they ran.

There were separate hearings held Thursday, Sept. 30 in the Knox County court on both the criminal and civil cases.

The Stewarts are represented by attorney Kevin Sullivan in the civil lawsuit. Malcolm Stewart has yet to hire a lawyer for the criminal case.

Sullivan asked that the court separate the cases against the Stewarts and Castle Builders.

“My clients are not trying to hide the fact that they are in financial ruin,” Sullivan said.

He said there is no need to defend Castle Builders. He said if the court finds that the Stewarts have personal liabilities, that would be of interest to them.

“If not, they can go on their merry way,” he said.

Assistant Maine Attorney General Brendan O’Neil argued against separating the case, saying the state would be trying to pierce the corporate veil during a trial to show that the Stewarts are liable.

“From the customers’ standpoint, the Stewarts are the corporation,” O’Neil said.

The Stewarts marketed their company to customers, designed projects, and signed contracts, he said.

The civil lawsuit by the AG’s Office accuses the Stewarts and Castle Builders of bilking more than 100 people out of more than $1 million by accepting payments for construction jobs but not doing the work or doing shabby work.

Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti estimated the trial would take seven days. She said a lot of the victims are elderly people. One of the victims has died since the suit began, she noted.

O’Neil said separating the case between the corporation and the Stewarts would also result in witnesses having to appear twice and be an inefficient use of the court’s limited resources.

No date has been set for the civil trial.

Justice Bruce Mallonee rejected the request by the Stewarts to separate the case. The hearing was done via Zoom.

And in a separate video hearing, retired Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm agreed to amend the bail for Malcolm Stewart in the criminal case.

The Stewarts are living in South Carolina, where they moved after the abrupt closure of Castle Builders in September 2019.

Stewart asked court to amend his bail so he can travel outside South Carolina. Stewart said in a court filing that he was asked by his former employer to deliver cars to North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Justice Hjelm agreed with the condition that Maine Pre-Trial Service gives its approval for each trip and the organization can require Stewart provide verification for each out-of-state work trip.

Justice Hjelm also ordered that Stewart, 56, surrender his green card to the court if a new one is granted. The current one expires in January 2022. Stewart is a Canadian citizen

He was indicted March 25, 2021 and pleaded not guilty May 20 to two criminal counts of theft by deception.

Fifty-six victims of the alleged scheme were listed in the criminal indictment with the amount of thefts totaling $437,906. The criminal offenses are alleged to have occurred from April 2018 until September 2019 in Knox, Waldo, Hancock, Kennebec, Lincoln and Somerset counties.

Justice Hjelm also gave Stewart additional time to hire a lawyer. The judge said a judicial-assisted settlement conference would be scheduled for near the end of 2021.

Filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine by the Stewarts indicate they have claims against them totaling $1,215,877. This includes $165,234 in taxes owed to the government.