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State AG prepared to file civil lawsuit

Stewart claims "false things" being said in contractor probe

By Stephen Betts | Nov 15, 2019
Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart in 2017 photograph taken when they opened Union Agway.

Union — The man at the center of an investigation -- into claims by more than a hundred homeowners that they paid the defunct Castle Builders in Union for work that was never done or completed -- said that his lawyer is working on resolving the matter.

"A lot of false things are being said about me," said Malcolm Stewart who along with his wife Elizabeth Stewart operated Castle Builders.

The Courier-Gazette contacted Stewart by telephone on Friday, Nov. 15 at Piedmont Honda in Anderson, S.C. where he works as a salesman.

Stewart did not detail what false things were being said. He then said he had no comment and ended the call by saying that he did not want to be called at work.

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

There are 177 creditors listed in their bankruptcy filing with most of them former customers of Castle Builders. Former workers, suppliers and the government are also listed as creditors.

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

Law enforcement began receiving complaints Sept. 3, 2019 from people who said they had paid for work that was never done.

The Stewarts closed both Castle Builders Office and Union Agway on Sept. 8 without notice to their customers or workers.

They moved to Belton. S.C. and are living with relatives, according to information included in the bankruptcy filing.

The Stewarts filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Oct. 9 for themselves individually and for the limited liability corporation Castle Builders.

The Maine Attorney General's Office criminal division is overseeing the investigation, District Attorney Natasha Irving said Friday. No criminal charges have been filed.

The Attorney General's Office states in paperwork filed with the bankruptcy court, however, that it plans to file a civil lawsuit under the Unfair Trade Practices Act. The AG's Office states that it has drafted the civil complaint and sent the Stewarts a notice of intent to file the complaint in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

The complaint will seek restitution for consumers, civil penalties, attorneys' fees, and court costs. In addition, the complaint will seek an injunction to prevent them from soliciting customers or taking payments from customers.

The court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy case, Portland attorney Anthony Manhart, has asked the court to allow an auction of inventory, shelving, and equipment at the Stewart's former business in Union. The auction, to be run by Keenan Auction Company, is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 12.

The Stewarts are represented in the bankruptcy case by attorney James Molleur of Biddeford.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 17, 2019 12:13

Once they have conned themselves, the rest of us are easy for them. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn't.

Posted by: Carleton Ingerson | Nov 17, 2019 05:39

Not the first time for this thief.

Posted by: John Snow | Nov 16, 2019 12:24

I support the fact that as a society we believe in giving people second chances, and almost all societies realized the futility of debtor prisons, but when the carnage involves this many people and this much money, it goes way beyond letting things get out of control and finding yourself in a hole too big to get out of. This is clearly criminal, and I await the opening of that front in this case.

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