Former Rockland lawyer had ties to three alleged victims, court records state

By Stephen Betts | Mar 11, 2019
Anita Volpe

The former longtime Rockland lawyer accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars each from three "vulnerable" people had served as a personal representative for two of them and had financial and health care powers of attorney for the third.

A review of records from the Knox County courts, including the probate court, show the ties that 73-year-old Anita M. Volpe had with the alleged victims.

Volpe was indicted March 5 by a Knox County grand jury for three counts of felony theft, two counts of Class B misuse of entrusted property, and one count of Class C misuse of entrusted property.

Volpe is scheduled to be arraigned in Knox County Superior Court April 22.

Her attorney, Steven Peterson, of West Rockport, said Friday, March 8, that Volpe denies taking money from the three women. He said one of the cases involved a family dispute and that matter was settled.

Peterson also said Volpe still lives in Tenants Harbor, despite the address listed by the Maine Attorney General's Office in the indictment. Volpe spends two to three months in Venice, Fla., during the winter, he said, and will be returning to her home in Maine next month.

The family dispute mentioned by Peterson is the charge in which Volpe is accused of stealing more than $10,000 from Corine Hendrick from October 26, 2012, through Dec. 1, 2014. Hendrick was Volpe's mother-in-law.

Hendrick died Dec. 20, 2014, at age 92, after several weeks in a nursing facility in Augusta that her grandchildren said was very low-quality. The family had wanted to put her in a Camden nursing home, but could not because of the lack of funds.

Volpe eventually issued a check for $119,658 to Hendrick's estate. The deputy counsel for the Maine Board of Overseers, Aria Eee, however, voiced concern in an April 2016 court filing about where Volpe got the money to pay that estate.

“As such, the Board is concerned that Attorney Volpe likely utilized other client funds in her trust account to issue the $119,658.54 check she paid to Ms. Hendrick’s estate,” the deputy bar counsel wrote in the document.

The Maine Board of Overseers would not comment in 2016 on whether it had referred the complaint to the Maine Attorney General's Office for a criminal investigation. The AG's Office is now prosecuting the case.

The Maine Supreme Court accepted the surrender of Volpe's license in lieu of disciplinary action in August 2016. Justice Andrew Mead impounded all the documents related to the matter, but Hendrick's grandson Shane Hendrick of Camden released the paperwork back in 2016.

Volpe had initially been the personal representative for Hendrick's estate after Hendrick died, but Volpe withdrew before the estate was probated.

In 2016, Volpe’s attorney at the time, Toby Dilworth, of Portland, said the allegations against her in the Hendrick case were just that — allegations.

“They are not facts. Ms. Volpe was prepared to defend against them. However, given that she was planning to wind down her practice after almost 39 years as a lawyer, she decided to surrender her license rather than engage further in this intra-family dispute,” Dilworth said back in 2016.

A telephone message was left Monday morning for the prosecutor from the Attorney General's Office in this case, asking why it took nearly three years for criminal charges to be filed from when Volpe surrendered her law license. There was no immediate response.

Other alleged victims

One of the other alleged victims was Patricia Wakefield, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army.

The state alleges that Volpe stole more than $10,000 from Wakefield from May 20, 2014, through April 2, 2018.

Wakefield died Nov. 11, 2016, at the Knox Center in Rockland at the age of 87.

Volpe was the personal representative who oversaw the handling of Wakefield's estate. Wakefield, who had lived in Tenants Harbor before going to the nursing home, had signed the will naming Volpe as personal representative on Dec. 15, 2000. Volpe was also listed as having the power to make medical decisions for Wakefield if she was unable to make those choices for herself, according to probate court records.

Wakefield was not married and had no children. Her will left all her assets to the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla.

After her death, the Knox Center made a claim against Wakefield's estate for $49,667.

Volpe, acting as personal representative, oversaw the sale of Wakefield's house in January 2017.

The Maine Bureau of Revenue Services filed a claim against the estate for $8,424 for unpaid income taxes from 2013, 2014 and 2015. Those liens were discharged in July 2018, with the state saying the liens were placed in error.

The third alleged victim listed in the indictment is Mary Webb. The indictment against Volpe alleges she stole money from Webb from April 21, 2014, through Jan. 9, 2017.

Volpe was also listed as the durable financial power of attorney for Webb in a probate case involving the disposition of the estate of Webb's husband, Richard Webb Jr. Richard Webb, a St. George resident, died Jan. 27, 2014, at the age of 86 at the Cushing Homestead.

His obituary listed no children for the couple.

That estate went through a lengthy court battle after there were allegations that another individual had used undue influence on Richard Webb to have him unknowingly sign a document giving 25 percent of his estate -- worth an estimated $2 million -- to that individual.

That individual was not Volpe.

The case was eventually settled in June 2016 with the other individual repaying Mary Webb an unspecified amount of money.

A lien was placed on Webb's Tenants Harbor property in April 2017 and discharged in December 2018.

Volpe received her law degree from Widener University in Chester, Pa., in 1975. She was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1977. She practiced in Rockland until she surrendered her license in August 2016 while facing disciplinary action by the Board of Overseers of the Bar.

Comments (3)
Posted by: LEE C MACFARLAND | Mar 14, 2019 16:10

I really hope this isn’t true and she is innocent.

Fran



Posted by: Ananur Forma | Mar 11, 2019 16:46

Anita is an honest person.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 11, 2019 16:02

Innocent until proven guilty...sounds like a hate job to me. Volpe seems to have done what any lawyer would do for a client.

Lawyers do make a better salary than the on-professional for sure, but like I say, Innocent until proven guilty.



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