ELLSWORTH, Maine — A former local pawn shop owner has been convicted of failing to keep proper records for his business, according to a local prosecutor.
Jonathan Tardiff, who used to own and operate the Needful Things shop on High Street, was convicted last week in Hancock County Superior Court of misdemeanor charges of “dealer in used property violation,” according to Assistant Hancock County District Attorney Mary Kellett.
With the conviction, Tardiff was fined $300 and $400 for the two offenses, Kellett said.
Tardiff was charged after police received two complaints last year of stolen items showing up in Tardiff’s shop. When police went to investigate, Kellett said, Tardiff could not produce records that would have indicated from whom and when he bought the items. State law requires pawn shops to document the identity of people they purchase items from, what items they buy and when they buy them, and to provide that information to police upon request, she said.
“He wasn’t able to produce any records for those items,” the prosecutor said.
One item was a unique wedding ring, made from two rings that had been soldered together, that the owner saw in the shop on March 28, 2011, Kellett said. The ring had been reported stolen in October 2010 and the woman had photos of the ring to support her claim that it was hers.
The second item was a money clip fashioned by a Sullivan jeweler, according to Kellett. The clip disappeared from the owner’s home around New Year’s Eve 2010 and turned up in Tardiff’s shop on Feb. 15, 2011, she said.
Tardiff was not charged with receiving stolen property because police had no evidence that Tardiff knew the items were stolen when he acquired them, Kellett said.
Tardiff since has moved his business to Trenton.
Tardiff’s defense attorney, A.J. Greif of Bangor, said Wednesday afternoon that he plans to appeal the conviction. He said the charge filed against his client was that he failed to make his pawn shop records available to police, when in fact he did make those records available. At trial, however, the district attorney’s office argued that Tardiff failed to create required records for the purchase of those items — which Greif said is a different allegation than what Tardiff was charged with by police.
Greif said that the items were not stolen but in fact were acquired by his client before he went into the pawn shop business. Both the wedding ring and the money clip were bought by Tardiff in Pawleys Island, S.C., in February 2010, he said. Tardiff was not required by Maine law to create purchase records for those items because, at the time, he did not operate a business in Maine, he argued.
“I expect the conviction to be reversed,” Greif said.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.