ELLSWORTH, Maine – The state has dropped income-tax evasion charges filed against a Mariaville woman cleared of allegedly bilking an elderly uncle suffering from dementia out of $213,000.
The dismissal prosecutors filed Friday at Hancock County Superior Court came about a month after a criminal court jury there declared 58-year-old Lisa Harriman not guilty of theft and misuse of entrusted property.
The four counts of intentional evasion of Maine income tax, two counts of theft by deception, five counts of failure to pay income tax and a single count of failure to file a state income tax return were dismissed following the not-guilty verdict, Maine Assistant Attorney General Gregg D. Bernstein said.
“What I can say is that after a review of the case for which Ms. Harriman was found not guilty, the state has found it appropriate to dismiss the tax indictment,” Bernstein said.
The tax indictment had accused Harriman of falsely underreporting her income, which included money paid to her by her uncle, between 2011 and 2016, according to the indictment. The court paperwork does not specify exactly how much that was.
Harriman’s attorney, Mary Gray, said the dismissal is “a huge relief” to Harriman.
“This has been very stressful for her, and it’s something that she is very pleased at the outcome. We all were. It’s a huge relief for her to have it go this way,” Gray said.
Harriman was acting as an unpaid caregiver to Trenton resident and retired state worker Richard Royal, the husband of her mother’s late sister, when she was accused in 2016 of stealing $213,000 from Royal, a U.S. Navy veteran.
Prosecutors alleged Harriman convinced Royal, who was suffering from dementia, to cash a $150,000 life insurance policy, minus a $37,000 penalty, and wrote herself a $100,000 check from the victim’s bank account. Harriman’s attorney said that she got a portion of an estate worth $1.1 million as thanks and payment for slightly less than three years of work.
Before his death in July 2017, the 85-year-old Royal told state investigators that he had no memory of giving Harriman money, but that he would have if she’d asked, because he thought highly of her.
The jury deliberated for several hours before returning the not-guilty verdict.
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