The Maine State Prison in Warren. Credit: Gabor Degre

A 66-year-old man serving time in the Maine State Prison for defrauding midcoast residents out of more than a half-million dollars has died a year-and-a-half before his expected release, the Maine Department of Corrections said.

The department did not say what caused Robert Howarth’s death, but it said he was receiving end-of-life care and that his death was not related to the coronavirus. The state’s attorney general’s office and medical examiner have been notified of his death under correction department policy.

In February 2018, Howarth was sentenced to serve six years of a 10-year sentence for theft by

deception and violations of the Maine Uniform Securities Act, according to the Maine Department of Corrections. But he was scheduled for release in December 2021 at the time of his death.

Using various aliases between 2009 and 2012, Howarth befriended at least 20 people in Maine — including many in the midcoast — and collected more than $575,000 in investments for what they believed to involve the resale of designer clothes, according to information provided by the Maine Office of Securities at the time of his sentencing.

He wore high fashion clothing, hosted lavish parties and told the victims he had recently sold a clothing business in New York for multiple millions of dollars. But his pitch was fraudulent and some of them lost critical retirement savings, according to Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw.

In 2016, Howarth was arrested in New Jersey after two indictments were obtained in York and Waldo counties. He pleaded guilty to four different charges in December 2017 and was required to pay $575,000 to his victims as part of his sentencing.