BANGOR, Maine — A Brewer auctioneer who stole money from his clients and kept items he was entrusted to sell has been barred from operating in Maine, according to the state board that oversees auctioneers.
Jeffrey S. Roberts, who most recently ran the defunct Picadilly Place Auction House in the old Footman’s Dairy building at 153 State St. in Brewer, must also pay $84,000 in fines within 90 days for the 56 violations, according to the Board of Licensing of Auctioneers.
The fines are based on civil penalties of $1,500 per violation, according to the board’s decision and order. It was unclear on Sunday whether Roberts faces criminal charges — or if he will be required to pay restitution.
The revocation of his licence follows an investigation by the Maine attorney general’s office and Brewer police and a series of five hearings with complainants by the licensing board on Feb. 1 that Roberts failed to attend. The state’s efforts to contact him by phone and email were not successful, according to the Board of Licensing of Auctioneers.
Roberts took items from them to sell on consignment at auction, but he never returned those items or reimbursed them, the board found.
The Eastport woman estimated that she lost between $5,000 and $6,000 worth of her belongings, while the Old Town couple said they lost $8,365 worth of goods.
Similarly, an Ohio woman who wanted to sell items from the estate of her aunt, who had lived in Sedgwick, said she lost an estimated $20,000 to $30,000.
A New Hampshire man who wanted to sell antiques — including 25 large pieces of furniture and 50 paintings from his uncle’s estate — estimated his losses at about $42,000.
The list of violations the board found against Roberts included multiple instances of failure to pay consignors, failure to account for property, unprofessional conduct, acting contrary to consignors’ and buyers’ best interests, misrepresentation, failure to fully inventory items, and breach of fiduciary duty.
The board also found that Roberts failed to submit requested documentation to the board, committed record keeping violations, and committed fraud and theft by credit card.
He was first licensed as an auctioneer in Maine in October 2013. Before Brewer, he operated out of Hallowell.
Roberts has 30 days to appeal the decision. Efforts to reach Roberts for comment on the ruling were unsuccessful.
The attorney general’s office is investigating more cases involving Roberts, according to Doug Dunbar, a spokesman for the Department of Professional and Financial Regulations, which oversees the Board of Licensing of Auctioneers.
In a related move, the state on March 1 was granted in Kennebec County Superior Court a preliminary injunction against Roberts for engaging in unfair trade practices as a licensed auctioneer, Timothy Feeley, spokesman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, said Monday.
The injunction prohibits Roberts from engaging in auctioneering, including soliciting, advertising, contracting and accepting consignments for sale at auction, conducting auctions, listing and selling items, acting as an auctioneer and selling, disposing, transferring or destroying any and all consigned property belonging to a consignor or buyer, whether or not a complaint has been made to the Board of Licensure of Auctioneers.
Should Roberts fail to comply with any of the terms of the injunction, he faces a fine of up to $10,000 for each violation.
The board encourages anyone with questions or concerns about any auctioneer to contact Karen Bivins, auctioneer licensing board administrator, at Karen.L.Bivins@maine.gov.