MDI woman accused in Connecticut larceny case being sued in Maine for $50,000

Posted Oct. 15, 2012, at 3:09 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 16, 2012, at 2:38 p.m.

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — A local woman accused of stealing nearly $200,000 worth of designer clothing and antiques from a former friend in Connecticut has been ordered to repay the friend $10,000, but she may have to come up with another $50,000 to repay a former landlord in Maine.

Dianna Brochendorff, 65, appeared in a Connecticut courtroom on Oct. 10 to request that she be granted “accelerated rehabilitation” for repaying the $10,000, according to the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Conn. Accelerated rehabilitation is a program by which defendants who have no criminal record are given a second chance, in this case, to avoid being prosecuted on criminal charges.

Judge James P. Ginocchio, presiding in Litchfield Superior Court, ordered Brochendorff to repay $5,000 immediately to the former friend, Massoumeh Homayouni, and gave Brochendorff another six months to repay the rest, the newspaper reported.

In addition to the criminal charges filed in Connecticut, Brochendorff is facing civil charges in Maine over costs incurred by a former landlord. Rhonda Soucie-Coffin claims Brochendorff owes her $50,407.70 for unpaid rent, damage, utility bills and other expenses from when Brochendorff rented Soucie-Coffin’s home in the local village of Seal Harbor from August 2008 into July 2009.

The $10,000 repayment order issued last week in Connecticut pertains to a cash loan that Homayouni made to Brochendorff, not to the value of clothing and antiques that Brochendorff allegedly took from Homayouni. Brochendorff is accused of taking clothing and antiques, which she had been storing in Connecticut for Homayouni, and offering them up for sale at a Mount Desert Island store Brochendorff ran at the time called Somesville Consignment Shop.

Terri Sonnemann, senior assistant state’s attorney in Connecticut, said Monday that only a small percentage of Homayouni’s possessions have been recovered.

Brochendorff has come up with the initial $5,000 she must repay to her former friend, the prosecutor said Monday. If she does not come up with the additional $5,000 within the next six months, prosecutors will pursue the larceny case against Brochendorff that stems from the alleged theft of Homayouni’s possessions, Sonnemann said.

Sonnemann said Brochendorff asked for accelerated rehabilitation in Connecticut, a court program that is available to people who have not participated in it previously and who have no criminal record. If Brochendorff pays off the $10,000 by the ordered deadline, she said, the larceny charge will be dropped and Brochedorff’s criminal record will remain unblemished.

The prosecutor said neither the victim nor court officials expect to recover any of the missing items that have yet to turn up.

A voicemail message left Monday afternoon at a local phone number listed for Brochendorff was not returned. Brochendorff, who had denied stealing the items, now runs a similar consignment shop called The Maine Coast Exchange, located on Main Street in the village of Northeast Harbor.

In Maine, a hearing was held last month on Sept. 27 in Ellsworth District Court to determine how much money Brochendorff should pay back to Soucie-Coffin, according to Soucie-Coffin’s attorney, Thomas Wheatley of Bar Harbor. Brochendorff did not show up to the hearing, Wheatley said Monday.

The presiding judge in Ellsworth District Court, Bruce Mallonee, took evidence about the civil lawsuit but has not ruled on how much Brochendorff should have to repay, Wheatley said.

The $50,407.70 requested by Soucie-Coffin is for unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, damage to the rented home and for expenses such as travel, lost wages and attorney fees directly related to Soucie-Coffin’s efforts to evict Brochendorff and then to recover money from her, according to court documents.

In February 2010, in an effort to recover some of the clothing and antiques that Brochendorff allegedly stole from Homayouni, police executed a search warrant at Brochendorff’s Main Street apartment in Northeast Harbor and at the Somesville store.

Among the items Brochendorff allegedly took from Homayouni are three antique lamps, two antique crystal caviar dish sets, two large silver picture frames and a set of 12 Venetian glasses, court documents have indicated. All of the listed antiques date from 19th century Italy and Russia.

Also on the list are more than 80 individual items of clothing, including dresses by Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren; jackets designed by Giorgio Armani; and a suit designed by Valentino. Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan, Gucci, Moschino, Burberry and Oscar de la Renta are among the designers whose clothes are on the list.

According to the Republican-American newspaper, Homayouni told the Connecticut judge during the Oct. 10 hearing that she felt “violated and lied to” by Brochendorff.

“She puts on a great show that she is a socialite, and came to our house in tears saying she was broke because a real estate deal was delayed,” the newspaper quoted Homayouni as saying. “I asked my broker from Smith-Barney to sell securities because I didn’t have that much in my checking account. She asked for it to be wired and said she would repay it in two weeks. There was always an excuse why she couldn’t repay it, then she disappeared.”

Brochendorff moved from Salisbury, Conn., to MDI in August 2008 without leaving any forwarding or contact information for Homayouni, police have said. About a year later, Homayouni was searching online for clues about where Brochendorff might be when she found a weekly newspaper article indicating that Brochendorff had opened the consignment shop in Somesville.

Brochendorff has a history of being accused by lenders of not living up to financial obligations or agreements, according to court records.

Two years ago, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust was engaged in a four-year effort to recover money from Brochendorff. In a civil action filed against Brochendorff in Ellsworth District Court, the bank was seeking to get Brochendorff to repay $23,415 that she had ended up with as a result of a credit transaction.

Contacted Monday by cellphone, the bank’s attorney, Michael Haenn of Bangor, said that Brochendorff ended up paying back a significant portion of that amount, but he could not recall offhand how much the bank recovered. He said he has no idea where Brochendorff got the money to repay the bank.

Around the same time, electrical contractor MCM Electric of Mount Desert was trying to get Brochendorff to repay $1,170.89 for two days of work it did for her in September 2009. The contractor indicated in Ellsworth District Court documents that five subsequent attempts to contact Brochendorff about paying the bill were unsuccessful.

The contractor’s small claims case was dismissed in August 2010, a couple of months after Brochendorff paid the contractor $600, according to court documents.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this article mischaracterized a relationship between a Mount Desert Island woman and her former landlord in Seal Harbor. Rhonda Soucie-Coffin says she and Dianna Brochendorff were never friends and only met when Brochendorff approached her about renting Soucie-Coffin’s house. Soucie-Coffin also clarified that Brochendorff rented her home for 11 months and two weeks, rather than several months.

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