A jury on Wednesday found a former Maine legislator guilty of bilking two elderly widows, one in Belfast and one in France, out of more than $3.5 million and of not paying income taxes after deliberating more than eight hours.
Robert Kenneth Lindell Jr., 53, of Cloverdale, California, was convicted of theft by unauthorized taking, a securities violation in connection with the alleged fraud, three counts of theft of federal income tax funds, and five counts each of intentional evasion of income tax and failure to pay Maine income tax.
Lindell, formerly of Frankfort, pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts.
A sentencing date has not been set.
He will continue to be held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail, where he has been since May after he violated his bail conditions after being free for a year.
The jury of five men and seven women returned the verdict about 9 p.m. at Penobscot Judicial Center, according to the Maine attorney general’s office, which prosecuted the case. The trial began Oct. 30.
The Belfast widow died in 2012 at age 92, but Lindell continued to have access to her finances. He drained nearly $3 million from her estate, which should have totaled about $5.5 million, the jury found.
He was accused of stealing about half a million dollars from the woman in France, who was a longtime family friend, according to the prosecution.
The tax charges stemmed from his not reporting the alleged stolen money on his federal and state tax returns.
Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein told the jury in his closing argument that Lindell gained the trust of both women, then slowly drained their accounts between 2010 and early 2017. Bernstein described the women as being “financially isolated.”
“He spent more than six years taking money that didn’t belong to him,” the prosecutor told the jury. “He bought a house in California wine country and made extensive repairs from the outside in. He paid massive credit card bills for expensive travel and expensive dining all over the U.S. and Europe.
“Mr. Lindell paid tuition for his child’s private high school and, later, college tuition, all with [their] money,” Bernstein said. “He paid off a loan. In addition, he wrote checks to himself and to his company. He used these women’s money as his personal piggy bank.”
Defense attorney Harris Mattson of Bangor told jurors in his closing argument Wednesday that Lindell had the authority to move money in and out the women’s accounts and trust funds. Mattson also said the Lindell’s more than $400,000 in management fees were reasonable.
“The money from a trust used to purchase the house in California as an investment, to fix it up, along with the artwork and the wine collected by Mr. Lindell were investments that he was allowed to make under the rules of the trust,” he said.
“Every one of the state’s charges is crippled by reasonable doubt,” Mattson said.
Bernstein told the jury that the case was prosecuted in Maine because the money in the accounts and the securities were held in Maine.
Lindell served in the Maine House of Representatives as a Republican from 2004 to 2006, when he was defeated in his re-election bid.
His Maine securities disciplinary record included sanctions in 2002 and 2013. Both actions ended in consent orders, court documents said.
Lindell faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 on the most serious charge of Class B theft. He also could be ordered to pay restitution and back taxes.