Lien placed on Tremont school, other buildings after contractor accused of not paying for shingles

Posted Nov. 22, 2011, at 2:21 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 22, 2011, at 6:12 p.m.

TREMONT, Maine — A lien has been placed on the local school by a Holden building materials supplier that claims it has not been paid for roofing shingles placed on the building this past summer.

Three other buildings in Maine also may be subject to similar liens placed by Viking Lumber, according to an attorney involved in the dispute.

In Tremont, Viking Lumber claims it still is owed $25,692 for the shingles that Northeast Facilities Management Inc. and contractor Darren Stover allegedly acquired and then installed on Tremont Consolidated School over the summer.

An attorney representing Northeast Facilities Management, however, claims the Bangor company has been unfairly accused and that Stover misrepresented his affiliation with the company.

Superintendent Rob Liebow of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System said Tuesday that Stover had been hired as a representative of Northeast Facilities Management and was paid to do the roof work which totaled about $46,000. Liebow added that before Stover was hired, the contractor had presented the school system with liability insurance coverage written out in the name of Northeast Facilities Management.

Nancy Thurlow, business manager for the MDI school system, said Tuesday that the payment checks were issued to Northeast Facilities Management. The system has not yet received copies of the canceled checks, however, and so has not yet been able to determine who cashed them or where they may have been deposited, she said.

In a letter sent Nov. 10 to officials, Bangor attorney Seth Harrow says that the management company is not involved in the alleged lack of payment to Viking Lumber.

“I write to inform you that my client, Northeast Facilities Management Inc. had nothing to do with this situation and it is our opinion it has been wrongly associated with this situation due to fraud perpetuated by a Darren Stover,” Harrow said in the letter. “My client essentially does landscaping and plowing. It does not perform and nor has it ever done roofing work.”

According to Harrow, Stover may have falsely indicated to Viking that he was associated with Northeast Facilities Management in order to be approved for a line of credit by the lumber company.

The letter suggests that, aside from the Tremont school, Viking also is seeking payment for materials used in projects at the Hancock town office, Blue Hill Consolidated School and Mountain View Terrace Building No. 11 in Skowhegan. Aside from town officials in Hancock and Tremont and school officials in Blue Hill, Harrow’s letter was sent to Country View Housing Associates Limited Partnership in Lewiston, which presumably is the owner of the Skowhegan building.

According to documents filed in the Hancock County Registry of Deeds in Ellsworth, Viking Lumber has placed liens of $5,056.99 on the school in Blue Hill and $4,540.98 on the Hancock town office.

Attempts to track down contact information Tuesday for a Darren Stover in Maine were unsuccessful.

Messages left this week with attorneys representing Viking and Northeast Facilities Management have not been returned.

Tremont town officials met in executive session Monday night to discuss the lien with the town’s attorneys. After the executive session, selectmen authorized the town’s attorneys, Chadbourne Smith and James Collier of Bar Harbor, to continue to look into the matter.

Gary Hunt, an attorney and chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Hancock, said Tuesday that Stover reroofed the town office in late September and early October. Before being awarded the job, Stover allegedly submitted a bid of $8,900 to the town on Northeast Facilities Management letterhead stationery, Hunt said. When the board asked to see a certificate of insurance, Stover produced a certificate issued in the name of the Bangor company, the selectman said.

“It was their policy,” Hunt said. “We issued three [payment] checks, all to Northeast Facilities Management.”

The town was satisfied with the work, which wrapped up in early October, and all three checks were cashed, Hunt said. One was deposited at Maine Savings Federal Credit Union and two others were endorsed by Stover and then cashed at Machias Savings Bank, he said.

Hunt said the board plans to discuss the issue when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, but he is not sure to what extent the town will fight the lien in court.

“It’s [only] $4,500. If you get embroiled in litigation, it doesn’t take long to run up attorneys’ fees,” Hunt said.

The elected Hancock official and practicing attorney said the situation presents a complex array of legal questions, some of which are civil in nature but some of which could be criminal.

“This chain of events reminds me of a bar exam question,” he said.

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