ROCKLAND — The former owner of Castle Builders in Union who was indicted by the Knox County grand jury in March for theft by deception of over $400,000 from consumers throughout the Midcoast, is scheduled for a second appearance in Knox County Unified Criminal Court July 22.
Malcolm Stewart, 56, has been free on $50,000 cash bail after the state issued a warrant for his arrest March 25. He is currently residing in Pelzer, South Carolina, where he is receiving kidney dialysis treatments for end stage renal disease, according to the court document.
Stewart’s last court appearance, where he pleaded not guilty, was held May 20 online by Zoom.
His next court appearance, scheduled for July 22, will be a dispositional conference. On June 8, the court approved a motion to participate via video filed by Stewart’s attorney Kevin Sullivan, of Gardiner, who represented Stewart only for the arraignment.
Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Russell, representing the state, agreed to the motion.
The state has ordered that Stewart comply and sign a Maine Pre-Trial Contract that stipulates that he does not have any contact with more than the 50 victims, must surrender his passport and cannot leave his current home state without permission of the court.
Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said in a news release March 25 following the grand jury indictment, that “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 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.
Stewart’s court file does not include any information regarding the attorney who will be representing him at future court proceedings.
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org