UPDATE: Castle Builders owner Malcolm Stewart indicted by Knox County Grand Jury

Sun, 04/11/2021 - 6:30pm
    ROCKLAND (April 11) — The attorney for Malcolm Stewart, 56, who was indicted by the Knox County grand jury in March for theft by deception from consumers throughout the Midcoast, has filed a motion in Knox County court to arrange a hearing for his client to turn himself in to the court on an arrest warrant.
    The court issued a warrant for Stewart’s arrest warrant March 25 and set bail at $50,000 cash. He is now residing in Pelzer, South Carolina.
    Stewart, the owner of Castle Builders in Union, closed his business without notice after he allegedly collected deposits of over $400,000 from 57 consumers for home construction projects that he knew he did not have the capacity to complete, Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said in a news release.  

    The motion, filed by Stewart’s attorney, Kevin P. Sullivan of Gardiner, requests that a date be scheduled for his client to appear in court where will plead not guilty and ask the court to lower his bail amount so he will be able to be released from jail.

    Stewart has been diagnosed with end stage renal disease and is receiving dialysis treatments while he is waiting for a kidney donation, according to the court document.

    The attorney states that Stewart needs to schedule dialysis prior to turning himself in because of the length of time the drive will take from South Carolina to Maine.

    “He also desires to set up a plan with the jail where he will be incarcerated to ensure he obtains his dialysis and medications or he will die,” Sullivan states in the motion. The attorney said that it is expected Stewart will spend some time in jail before he is released on bail.

    According to the motion, Stewart does have a home in Maine which may have some equity, but that asset can only be used for bail if the judge approves a surety and he is allowed to use the equity in his home.

    Stewart is expected to request a court appointed attorney since he financially qualifies, according to the court document. Currently he does not have any income, but has a pending application for Social Security benefits.

    AUGUSTA - The Knox County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against Malcolm Stewart, 56, who did business as Castle Builders, for theft by deception from consumers throughout the Midcoast, said Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey on March 25.

    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 a news release from the AG’s office.
    “In most of the transactions listed in the indictment, Stewart performed no work in return for the money,” the release said.  “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.

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