D.A. to hold law enforcement, community meeting on growing Castle Builders complaints

By Stephen Betts | Oct 04, 2019
Photo by: Beth Birmingham

Union — District Attorney Natasha Irving has called together local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to spearhead a criminal investigation into the growing complaints from people who say they were bilked by a Union contractor.

And the regional prosecutor will then hear from people who believe they were victims of Castle Builders.

She said currently 17 law enforcement agencies have received complaints from people who paid money to Castle Builders but received either no services or inadequate work. The complaints are coming from all four counties in her prosecutorial district -- Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo  -- as well as Kennebec and Hancock counties.

"Victims have come forward from all walks of life, all income levels, education levels and up and down Midcoast and inland Maine," Irving said Friday, Oct. 4. "No person should feel ashamed or embarrassed to come forward with their story."

She said she has invited both the Maine Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office to attend in the event that there are any federal laws that have been violated, such as on taxes.

"Law enforcement and the District Attorney's Office must conduct the most comprehensive investigation possible, and need to hear all victims' voices. We demand justice for the victims of Castle Builders," she said.

Law enforcement began receiving complaints Sept. 3, Irving said.

She will meet Thursday morning, Oct. 10, with law enforcement representatives from 17 agencies. And then Thursday evening at 6 p.m., Irving will attend a community meeting at the Thompson Community Center, 51 South Union Road, Union, for citizens to discuss the situation.

Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart of Washington owned Castle Builders, which closed without notice in early September, leaving employees without pay and scores of customers waiting for work to be done on projects for which they had paid money to the company.

Corey Staples, owner of Staples Building and Home Repair of Pittston, took the position of general manager at Castle Builders in August, but less than a week later went to the Attorney General's Office with what he said was more than enough information to start an investigation into the matter. Staples said more than 90 clients from five counties were victims -- including himself, a retired New Jersey police chief and a local attorney.

Malcolm Stewart was also president of Casco Bay Home Improvement, based in Augusta, which also is no longer in business. That company formed in 2010 and dissolved in 2016, when it failed to file paperwork with the Maine Secretary of State's Office.

Castle Builders was formed as a corporation by the Stewarts in December 2016, according to the Maine Secretary of State's Office.

The Internal Revenue Service filed a lien on Castle Builders Inc. Aug. 26 for $20,633 in unpaid taxes.This followed liens filed by the IRS in March 2019 for $68,000 and in 2018 for $80,000.

And there were liens filed against the Stewarts individually by the IRS for nonpayment of taxes for 2014 and 2017.

Also, the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services has two liens on the business totaling $18,000 for not paying withholding taxes from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2018.

Attempts to reach the Stewarts were unsuccessful. The business' number has been disconnected.

Irving said she does not know where the Stewarts have gone.

The district attorney also made a pitch for people to help those who were victimized. Robin and Rob Milliken and Robin's son, Brandon Rubenstein, owners of SRB Homes LLC, are organizing volunteer efforts to complete repairs for people who were victims. Anyone wishing to make monetary donations to cover materials can do so at Bangor Savings in the account of SRB Helping. Any contractors with leftover materials they would like to donate to the cause should contact the Millikens at SRBhelping@gmail.com

irving will attend the Oct. 10 meeting organized by the Millikens to hear directly from people.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Sam Charlton | Oct 07, 2019 13:27

Contractor's generally request 1/3 payment at signing of contract for work, 1/3 at start of work and 1/3 at completion. These folks got taken for their down payment, and perhaps the 1/3 for start of work. When we contracted Castle Builders 2/3 was requested as we signed the contract and work was going to happen "right away". What was a 6 month contract took 10 months. The work started in September 2019, by November 2019 my house was half painted and work stopped. I hounded them and didn't allow excuses. Our deck was built as snow flew. By April 2019 I was e-mailing, calling and showing up in person to get the rest of the painting done. It was a big sigh of relief when it was finally done the end of June 2019. We learned our lesson and will request references, and view other workmanship before hiring a builder again. Unfortunately Castle left disasters for others to clean up, and families financially ruined.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 04, 2019 19:08

Maine needs to license contractors like they do plumbing, heating and electrical installation workers. I just had my garage and my house roofs shingles. I had to sign a contract and put some money down but I knew this was a reputable company. They did what they said they would do and it was worth it to me. I feel bad for those that spent their hard earned money and got stiffed. Licensing wouldn't necessarily stop all the unqualified businessmen but it would thin them out. Good craftsmen do not take on more than they can handle. A good way to see how a person works is to watch how they treat the help in a supply store. If they are respected by the lowly sales clerk, then you don't want them on your home project.



Posted by: Christine Novicka | Oct 04, 2019 13:47

@Mary Mckeever, unfortunately the opposite happens for honest contractors, like myself who do work and never get paid which was what started the down payment for work to be done. I have a local business owner who has owed me over $3k for going on 12 years and unfortunately for us, small claims just takes more income away from us because it isn’t enforced and we have to continue taking time from work to keep going back to court which isn’t recoverable. People should just be honest! These are the kind of people that ruin it for the small contractors who are honest and do a good job to pay their bills and feed their families and work hard so they don’t have time to go on lush vacations and spend money they haven’t yet earned.



Posted by: Christine Novicka | Oct 04, 2019 13:45

@Mary Mckeever, unfortunately the opposite happens for honest contractors, like myself who do work and never get paid which was what started the down payment for work to be done. I have a local business owner who has owed me over $3k for going on 12 years and unfortunately for us, small claims just takes more income away from us because it isn’t enforced and we have to continue taking time from work to keep going back to court which isn’t recoverable. People should just be honest! These are the kind of people that ruin it for the small contractors who are honest and do a good job to pay their bills and feed their families and work hard so they don’t have time to go on lush vacations and spend money they haven’t yet earned.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 04, 2019 13:08

lesson learned. Never pay for work until it is done. An old Yankee saying for sure. Sadly, a lesson learned.



If you wish to comment, please login.