A Superior Court judge sentenced a former state legislator to 10 years in prison Tuesday following his conviction for stealing more than $3 million from two elderly widows and not paying income taxes. The judge called Robert Kenneth Lindell Jr.’s offenses “the worst theft” he’s ever seen.
Justice William Anderson also sentenced Lindell, 54, of Cloverdale, California, to three years of probation and ordered him to pay $750,000 in restitution. Lindell previously lived in Frankfort and served one term in the Maine House between 2004 and 2006.
Anderson, who imposed the maximum sentence for Class B theft, said he based the restitution order on Lindell’s ability to repay his victims rather than the total loss.
In November, a jury found that Lindell drained more than $3 million from the estate of the Belfast widow, who died in 2012 at the age of 92. Her estate should have totaled about $5.5 million. He also was accused of stealing about $300,000 from the woman in France, who was a longtime family friend.
The tax charges stemmed from Lindell not reporting the stolen money on his federal and state tax returns.
Anderson called Lindell’s conduct “outrageous.”
The judge said that Lindell wrote checks to himself from the women’s accounts to support his “lavish lifestyle,” including the purchase and renovation of a house in California wine country, and credit card bills for expensive travel and dining in the U.S. and Europe. He also paid for his child’s private high school and college tuition.
Lindell told Anderson on Tuesday that his own “self-deception” led to his crimes after he went heavily into debt fighting an accusation that led to his securities license being suspended in 2002.
An emotional Lindell apologized for his actions and asked that Anderson impose a short sentence.
“I want to dedicate my life to restitution,” he said. “If I have to work the rest of my life to repay [the victims], I will.”
Lindell was convicted by a jury in November 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.
He has been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail since his bail was revoked nearly a year ago. That time will be applied to his sentence.
Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein, who prosecuted the case, urged Anderson to impose a sentence of 22 years with all but 15 years suspended by making the sentences consecutive, followed by five years of probation.
Defense attorneys Zachary Brandmeir and Harris Mattson of Bangor urged Anderson to impose an eight-year sentence with all but 18 months suspended.