The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has upheld unanimously the conviction of a former state legislator who stole more than $3 million from two elderly widows and failed to pay his income taxes.
Robert Lindell Jr., 55, of Cloverdale, California, is serving a 10-year sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren. His earliest possible release date is March 9, 2026.
Lindell, a Republican, previously lived in Frankfort and served one term in the Maine House between 2004 and 2006. He represented the towns of Frankfort, Orland, Prospect, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Verona Island.
A jury found him guilty on Nov. 7, 2018, of theft by unauthorized taking, theft by deception, securities violations, tax evasion and failure to pay state income tax following a seven-day trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
The state’s high court heard oral arguments in the case on March 5 at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland. Its 18-page decision, written by Justice Joseph Jabar, was issued Thursday.
Lindell drained more than $3 million from the estate of a Belfast widow, who died in 2012 at the age of 92. Her estate should have totaled about $5.5 million. He also stole about $300,000 from a longtime family friend, who lived in France.
The tax charges stemmed from Lindell not reporting the stolen money on his federal and state tax returns.
Lindell’s appeal argued that because he lived in California when some of his crimes were committed, Maine did not have jurisdiction to charge him.
The justices rejected that idea.
“Lindell misappropriated money from Maine bank accounts while acting as trustee of a trust established under Maine law and while acting as the co-personal representative of an estate submitted for probate under Maine law,” Jabar wrote for the court. “Lindell transmitted falsified tax returns to the Maine Revenue Service, located in Maine, evading income tax that he was legally required to pay in the state of Maine.”
The appeal also said that Superior Court Justice William Anderson incorrectly allowed evidence to be admitted and gave flawed instructions to jurors.
The justices rejected those arguments as well.
In addition to prison time, Anderson ordered Lindell to pay $750,000 in restitution, based on Lindell’s ability to repay his victims rather than the total loss. The judge also sentenced Lindell to serve three years of probation following his prison term.
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said Monday that financial crimes against older adults are on the rise and schemes involving fraud are getting more complicated.
“My office is committed to comprehensively prosecuting these individuals, and seeking the imposition of strong sentences, as well as working with the Maine Office of Securities to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place,” he said.
Lindell’s case spanned the terms of the current attorney general and his predecessor, now Gov. Janet Mills.
A request for comment on the ruling from Lindell’s attorney, Marina L. Sideris of Camden, was not immediately returned Monday.