September 22, 2018
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Brunswick nurse charged with bilking elderly couple out of $274,000

Amber Waterman | BDN
Amber Waterman | BDN
Amy McLellan (right) and designer/build contractor Dick Campbell discuss the layout of a two-bedroom apartment in The McLellan, a residence for seniors 62 and older, in this October 2016 file photo.
By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff
Updated:

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A former critical care nurse at Mid Coast Hospital and Central Maine Medical Center has been indicted on felony theft charges after police say she bilked an elderly couple out of $274,000 in an effort to finance a “boutique” senior housing complex in downtown Brunswick.

Amy McLellan, 61, of Brunswick was indicted last week by a Cumberland County grand jury on charges of Class B misuse of entrusted property of a vulnerable person more than $10,000 and Class B theft by unauthorized taking more than $10,000.

Since purchasing the building for just more than $1 million in August 2016, McLellan has renovated the former Skofield House nursing home — and original Brunswick Hospital — at the corner of Cumberland and Union streets into The McLellan, an upscale elderly living complex with on-site skilled nursing care.

In October 2017, the Brunswick Police Department executed a search warrant of McLellan’s unit at The McLellan and seized computers and records.

According to an Oct. 27, 2017, affidavit in support of that search warrant, Brunswick police Cmdr. Mark Waltz wrote that an employee of McLellan’s had reported to the state Department of Health and Human Services that they had seen on McLellan’s computer financial documents and text messages indicating that “McLellan now had about $470,000 of their money, and that they had taken her about $70,000 of that amount one day when she was on duty at CMMC.”

Waltz wrote that he learned from interviewing the alleged victims that they met McLellan while the husband, 89 at the time, was her patient at CMMC. McLellan allegedly visited him while he then stayed at several rehabilitation facilities in the Lewiston-Auburn area, and then at their Auburn home.

Amber Waterman | BDN
Amber Waterman | BDN
The building for The McLellan in Brunswick

According to the affidavit, in April 2016, while the man was at Clover Manor in Auburn, he executed a general power of attorney naming McLellan as his agent.

His wife, who was 92 at the time, told Waltz that her husband had been “in love” with McLellan and that she had seen McLellan kiss him on the lips.

Waltz wrote that on April 28, 2016, McLellan drove the couple to their bank where the husband withdrew $200,000 and had a cashier’s check prepared, which McLellan took.

In December 2016, $74,000 allegedly was withdrawn from their account, and on Aug. 1, 2017, a check for $50,000 allegedly was made out to The McLellan, LLC by the husband, he wrote.

The alleged victim told Waltz his signature was on the check, but he didn’t make it out, “and that McLellan had been making out their checks. He also did not know why he had paid the money, nor did” his wife, Waltz wrote.

Waltz wrote that McLellan had taken approximately 60 percent of the couple’s net worth.

Waltz wrote that McLellan took out a mortgage from Norway Savings Bank for $1.6 million in August 2016. He alleged that she used the initial $200,000 from the victims as collateral for the mortgage.

In a text message allegedly found on the computer, McLellan told a contractor working on the building that the victim “cashed out savings bonds. He put them into his savings account that totals $202,000. He and I signed a form and had it notarized. I need to get the LLC formed before I can set up an account at nsb. I signed the commitment letter. They keep asking where the 200,000 is coming from and I keep saying it is a gift.”

According to Waltz, the McLellan website said the couples’ entrance fee upon moving in was supposed to be $50,000, so the August 2017 check for that amount may be legitimate.

“However, there is no apparent rationale for the $200,000 April 2016 and $74,000 December 2016 transfers to McLellan,” he wrote. “After the August 2017 payment of $50,000, the [alleged victims’] assets are only approximately $130,000. Even if the $50,000 payment is not counted, while serving as [the alleged victim’s] fiduciary, McLellan inducted the couple to transfer to her $274,000 of funds to which she was not entitled, which represented 60 percent of their total assets.

The couple, Waltz wrote, “were both clear … that the money was not a gift and they expected it to be repaid.”

“The [alleged victims] are vulnerable people,” Waltz wrote, noting that the man seemed to be “losing capacity” and was using a wheelchair. “They are of advanced age.”

In October 2016, McLellan told the Bangor Daily News that the project was “all about allowing people to live their lives to the fullest as they age, to show that life continues to grow and change in positive ways. I think I can bring the same energy and feeling to another setting.”

She said she had taken deposits on eight of the 18 apartments.

She said she had purchased the three-story building for just more than $1 million, far less than the $1.6 million asking price, and had spent “most of my life’s savings” on the project, intending to create small, assisted-living apartments for couples 62 and older.

She said she had named the project for her late father, William Arthur McLellan, a physician with deep family ties to Brunswick.

McLellan’s attorney, Kristine Hanly, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.

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