UPDATED

Controversy surrounds sudden closure of Union Agway/Castle Builders

Another company seeking help for victims
By Beth A. Birmingham | Sep 12, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Union Agway and Castle Builders at 2179 Heald Highway in Union closed suddenly Sept. 8.

Union — The sudden closure of Union Agway and Castle Builders has left many people with questions and some with thinner wallets.

According to Town Manager Jay Feyler, the property at 2179 Heald Highway closed its doors without notice and the gates are closed.

"We do know that several people who have come in here [to the Town Office] or called had paid him money for building projects and they have not been done," Feyler said.

He posted the following message on the town's Facebook page:

"The last two days we have received several inquiries regarding the apparent closing of Castle Builders in Union. Many are concerned about current projects or projects they have put deposits on.

"We urge you to call the Attorney General's Office or file your concern or complaint online. (800) 436-2131."

The building is owned by Ron Hawes, who ran Union Agway from 1985 to 2017, when he sold it to Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart of Washington. The couple also acquired the adjacent business, Castle Builders.

Hawes said he was out of town when the incident took place. He said the owners packed up a few things, locked the doors Sunday night, and called an office manager to inform the other employees that the business was closed and not to show up for work on Monday.

Hawes, who is president of Union Fair, worked on the Agway side this summer until fair time came around. He also indicated he didn't like the way things were going.

"I had to walk away and let him sink or swim," Hawes said of Malcolm Stewart.

The Stewarts leased the property from Hawes, but had not paid the lease in three months.

Hawes said although everything seemed in order on the Agway side of the business, there were other expenses and self-finance notes involved.

On the Castle Builders side, the construction vehicles and lots of tools and materials were still there, but some of the larger building materials and some computers and files were missing.

Hawes said he had a call in to his lawyer to see what steps could be taken.

According to the United States Internal Revenue Service, a lien was placed on Castle Builders Inc. Aug. 26 for $20,633 in unpaid taxes. Also, the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services has two liens on the business -- one for $7,260 in April and another for $11,159 in June.

There were no outstanding issues with the Agway business.

Unhappy customers have been posting on Castle Builders' Facebook page, and sharing information on who to contact. Recommendations were to call the Attorney General's Consumer Division at 626-8849 as well as Castle Builders' insurance company.

Regina Rooney of Hope, who is one of the victims, offers the following information:

"Foster Agency's direct line is 207-622-4646. They gave me the policy number for Castle (1801X0594) and encouraged me to call the national number with that info to see about filing a claim."

Union Agway provided feed for farm animals and Castle Builders constructed sheds, mini-barns, chicken coops and also roofing, siding, additions, decks, garages and renovations to homes.

There were approximately 10 employees at Castle Builders and two at Agway. The Department of Labor is in the early stages of investigating the incident.

"So, the only definite I have is that they are closed and there are people with projects partly done and others who have had nothing done, but their wallets thinned out," Feyler said.

Stewart owned Casco Builders, which also is no longer in business.

Company seeking help for victims

SRB Homes LLC, a Nevada corporation doing business in Union, is seeking to help victims of the Castle Builders scam.

Robin and Robert Milliken started their business in May 2015 with a desire to rehabilitate homes and buy rental properties long-term. Now, with their son, Branden Rubenstein, they are on a mission is to help people out of difficult situations, whether it be facing foreclosure, family issues or what have you.

“We learned about this terrible issue and have heard about unsafe buildings as well as open roofs, and materials never being delivered and folks are broke,” Robin Milliken said.

“They cannot help themselves now; they entrusted their money for their needs in Castle Builders,” she said.

SRB Homes has set up a special email address – SRBhelping@gmail.com – and will be looking for those with serious problems, such as unsafe and open roofs, windows or doors who need help with winter fast approaching. Verification of payment to Castle Builders via contract, receipt or cashed check is asked.

“We are looking for donations and volunteers to do work and also some to possibly pick up and deliver materials, help with keeping areas safe and without debris, as well as volunteers that are able to do the work,” Milliken said.

She said she will be contacting a bank to see how to set up an account that can be managed for any monetary donations that may come in.

“Though none of us have time, it is about giving what you can to help our local community in this very difficult and scary time,” she said.

A call to the Attorney General's Office has not yet been returned.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com. Courier Publications reporter Steve Betts contributed to this story.

Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart, who bought Union Agway and Castle Builders in 2017. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 16, 2019 14:36

Was this a scam purchase? Or just people who ran when they got in over their heads?



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