Prosecution claims Volpe stole nearly $1.2 million from elderly women

State seeks seven years in prison for lawyer accused of stealing from clients

By Stephen Betts | Oct 11, 2019
Anita Volpe

Rockland — The state is recommending that a former longtime Rockland lawyer serve seven years in prison if convicted for allegedly stealing nearly $1.2 million from three elderly incapacitated people.

The recommendations were filed Oct. 7 in the Knox County court by the Maine Attorney General's Office in preparation for a dispositional conference held Thursday, Oct. 10 in the West Bath court in the case of 74-year-old Anita M. Volpe of Tenants Harbor.

No settlement was reached Thursday and another disposition conference is expected to be held in January.

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

She pleaded not guilty at her April arraignment.

Volpe is free on bail with the condition that she not be a trustee, personal representative or handle finances for anyone else until the case is concluded.

The memorandum filed Oct. 7 by Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin alleges that Volpe stole $553,225 from Mary Webb; $490,416 from Patricia Wakefield; and more than $100,000 from Corine Hendrick. The state is proposing that Volpe pay restitution of those amounts to Webb and Wakefield's estates.

Volpe served as the power of attorney for the three women.

According to the state, Volpe stole from Webb and Wakefield to repay the estate of Hendrick, who was her mother-in-law.

The longtime local lawyer is alleged to have used the stolen money to pay personal credit card debt, and pay for the purchases of real estate, according to the state's memo to the court. The real estate included a parcel abutting her home in St. George.

Volpe also used some of the money to repair her Main Street law office in Rockland, according to the state. And she also is alleged to have used the money to repair her home.

Volpe also traded in a car owned by Wakefield to help pay for a pick-up truck.

A telephone message was left Friday morning with Volpe's attorney Leonard Sharon of Auburn. There was no immediate response.

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 lack of funds.

Volpe eventually issued a check for $119,658 to Hendrick's estate. The then 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 the 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 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 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.

Wakefield was a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. The state alleges that Volpe stole from Wakefield and her estate 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 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.

In regard to the third victim, 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. Webb died in March 2019.

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 (2)
Posted by: Ananur Forma | Oct 12, 2019 15:40

sad because she is being charged unjustly. I've known Anita for many years. She cares deeply about people and would take on clients who never paid her, but she was dedicated and cared so she did it knowing that she might not get paid. I do NOT believe Anita is guilty. This is a personal family vendetta.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 11, 2019 13:32

Sad!



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