APPLETON, Maine — A Waldoboro couple have been charged with stealing $72,000 from an elderly Appleton man.

Harold V. Martin, 51, and Michelle M. Leonard, 49, were arrested and each charged Tuesday with Class B felony theft. Both are free on bail.

Martin and Leonard are accused of taking $72,000 from the retirement account of the victim, who was a wholesale food dealer throughout his working life.

The investigation began in April when attorney Rick Morse of Rockland contacted the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to report that a client had been defrauded out of his retirement savings. Morse had been alerted by a neighbor about his client, who was found living in filthy conditions in his home, according to an affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

The neighbor reported that Leonard had been helping the elderly man pay his bills while Martin did handyman work around the home, the affidavit said. The neighbor said the victim told him the two had stolen his retirement money.

Knox County Detective Donald Murray interviewed the elderly man, who was hospitalized at the time at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport. The Appleton resident told the detective that he transferred his $72,000 in retirement money to another bank account in February with Martin’s name on it as well. The man said he did this because he had a difficult time getting to the bank and that Martin would be able to provide him the money when needed.

He said that he signed a contract with Martin and Leonard but that it was missing from his home.

Instead of assisting the man, Martin was withdrawing the money from the account opened at Camden National Bank in Union for his own use, according to the affidavit.

The district attorney’s office obtained a search warrant on April 26 for bank records and the court ordered the account frozen.

The detective interviewed Martin and Leonard, who both claimed that the man had given them the money to do with what they wanted, according to the affidavit. They also claimed they had given him some of the money.

When the detective asked why the man would have given them $72,000, Martin is quoted in the affidavit as saying, “Who cares why he did it?”

The review of the account opened in Martin’s name shows that $45,863 was withdrawn in a 72-day period after it was opened, according to the affidavit.