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Attorney General announces indictment of Malcolm Stewart
March 25, 2021
AUGUSTA - Attorney General Aaron M. Frey announced today that the Knox County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against Malcolm Stewart, age 56, who did business as Castle Builders, for theft by deception from consumers throughout the Mid Coast area. The indictment alleges that Stewart induced 57 consumers to pay deposits in the aggregate amount of over $400,000 for home construction projects that he knew he did not have the capacity to complete. In most of the transactions listed in the indictment, Stewart performed no work in return for the money. In a few of the transactions, he performed only a minimal amount of substandard work.
The indictment also alleges that Stewart induced two consumers to advance him a loan of $50,000 in December 2018, by falsely claiming he had cash flow problems because customers were not paying him and he had the capacity to repay the loan, beginning the following month. Stewart never made a single payment on the so-called loan.
Stewart closed the business without notice to the consumers after he collected his last deposit on September 6, 2019 and left Maine for Pelzer, South Carolina.
The Court issued a warrant for Stewart's arrest and set bail at $50,000 cash.
"A contractor who knowingly induces consumers to pay him money without intending to perform the promised services commits a criminal offense," said Frey. "Obtaining money through deception is not just bad business; its theft, and it directly harms consumers who have in many cases saved money over time to pay for these services."
In addition to announcing the indictment, Attorney General Frey urged consumers to exercise caution when hiring home construction contractors.
"Maine does not license home construction contractors so consumers must proceed with caution when hiring a contractor," said Frey. "Ask your friends and family for the names of people who have done good work for them. Check references and do some research to determine if the contractor is reputable or has many complaints. Also, read Chapter 17 of the Attorney Generals Consumer Law Guide, which has information on Maines law governing home construction and repair contracts, and what you can do if youre not satisfied with the contractors work."
The Office of Attorney General also filed a civil action against Stewart and his wife Elizabeth Stewart under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act on December 20, 2019. That lawsuit remains pending.