In a situation that authorities said was one of the worst cases of elder financial abuse in the state, a former Maine lawmaker was convicted last week on charges related to defrauding two widows out of more than $3 million, according to the Portland Press Herald.
> Robert Kenneth Lindell, 53, was convicted by a Penobscot County Superior Court jury last week on 15 counts of securities fraud, intentional evasion of Maine income tax and failure to pay Maine income tax.
> “This is one of the most significant and troubling cases my office has investigated in over a decade,” Judith Shaw, the Maine securities administrator, said in a statement. “Mr. Lindell was a trusted financial professional in Maine. But more than that, he was like family to these women. He groomed them for years in order to perpetrate these crimes, preying on their trusting nature and vulnerabilities.”
Lindell, who served in the Maine House of Representatives as a Republican from 2004 to 2008, also stole from one of the widow’s son, who is a disabled veteran living in Florida.
> Prosecutors said Lindell began acting as a securities agent for Phyllis Poor of Belfast in the early 2000s and was eventually given the woman’s power of attorney and named co-personal representative of her estate and trustee of accounts for the woman’s disabled veteran son. Poor died in 2012, said Gregg Bernstein, the assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case.
> The state said Lindell used that access to Poor’s finances to write checks to himself and his company from the accounts of Poor’s estate, paying personal expenses with trust and estate money, and buying, renovating and living in a home in California wine country with money from Poor’s accounts. He also stole from a trust set up for Poor’s son, a disabled veteran who lives in an assisted living facility in Florida, Bernstein said.
The second of Lindell’s targets, Gianna Lewis, knew the ex-lawmaker from the time he was born, according to prosecutors.
> Lindell was the trustee for accounts set up for the woman’s benefit by her late husband, and Lindell was convicted of writing himself checks from her account and paying his personal expenses with the money. Lindell was handling Lewis’ assets in the United States, Bernstein said.
In addition to defrauding the women, Lindell also failed to pay taxes on the money he took and wrongfully received tax refunds.
Apparently there were also earlier signs that Lindell was not ethically sound in his business practices:
> According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Lindell has 22 years of experience as a financial agent. He has been sanctioned nine times since 2001, and in 2017, he was barred from operating as a broker for an indefinite period after the criminal charges were lodged against him and Lindell failed to respond to FINRA’s requests for information.