Police confirm gunshot death of businessman

Posted April 14, 2009, at 9:38 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Police on Tuesday confirmed that 64-year-old Brewer businessman Gilbert Weber died Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his business, Weber Mortgage in Bangor. His death has been ruled a suicide.

Sgt. Paul Edwards of the Bangor Police Department said additional information is unlikely to be made available to the public, including the type of weapon used or whether Weber left a suicide note. The policy protects the privacy of families affected by a loved one’s suicide, he said.

A person who answered the phone Tuesday at the home of Weber and his wife, Carolyn, said “no comment” before disconnecting the call.

Police responded just after 1 p.m. Monday to reports that a despondent person with a high-powered weapon was alone in the Weber Mortgage building on Broadway in Bangor. Traffic was blocked along the busy four-lane street as police surrounded the building and attempted to make contact with whoever was inside. When they finally stormed the building at about 3:40 p.m., Weber already had taken his life, Edwards said.

Marc Reynolds, a former employee of Weber Mortgage, said Monday that “tough economic times” have weakened the mortgage brokerage industry and that Weber brokers were looking for work with other firms. The company, which Weber founded in 2000, recently had merged with Jacob Dean Mortgage Inc. of Vienna, Va.

Private mortgage companies such as Weber Mortgage have been a lucrative presence in Maine since the late 1990s, according to William Lund, superintendent of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection in the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. But, he said, their numbers have dwindled in recent years. The companies act as brokers between consumers and lending institutions, arranging home loans that ultimately are sold to investor groups.

“There was a lot of business for them because the [lending] rates were so low,” he said. “In Maine over the past 10 years, mortgage companies have made as many loans as banks and credit unions.”

The peak of the industry’s presence was in 2007, when 489 loan brokers were licensed in Maine, Lund said. But now there are only 322 loan brokers licensed to do business in Maine, 175 of them with headquarters out of state. Most are small businesses with five or fewer employees, Lund said.

Lund said loan brokerages in Maine must comply with recent “good faith and fair dealing” legislation that requires them to represent the financial interests of their customers.

Weber Mortgage has not been the object of any major disciplinary actions, he said, but over the years the regulatory office has fielded a number of “routine contacts” from consumers, typically upset at being unable to get a mortgage at the rate they wanted.

Like other businesses, loan brokerages have felt the pain of the global financial slowdown and the bursting of the real estate bubble, Lund said. But in the past month, partly in response to federal funding aimed at helping lenders offset recent losses, business has been picking up.

“Things are turning around at least in the southern half of the state,” Lund said. “Consumers will always want to purchase homes.”

Amy Brook, a coordinator of crisis services with Community Health and Counseling Services in Bangor, said Tuesday that economic problems can worsen depression and despair.

“Financial stress is often present in people in crisis, who may feel they have no options,” she said. If individuals are having trouble eating or sleeping or have lost interest in activities that have given them pleasure in the past, Brook said, they should consider seeking professional help. Friends or family members who are concerned about a loved one also may seek assistance, she said.

The statewide 24-hour toll-free crisis line is 888-568-1112.

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