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November 14, 2018

Ex-lawmaker and securities agent convicted of bilking two widows out of $3M

Check on investment professionals before hiring

Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw advises checking on the background of any investment professional before agreeing to work with them. Anyone who has questions about investment opportunities or the investment professionals they are working with should contact the Office of Securities, she said. Information about advisers, agents and investing is available at www.investors.maine.gov, by calling 1-877-624-8551 or by writing to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.

A former Maine lawmaker and securities agent was convicted by a jury on Nov. 7 in Penobscot County Superior Court of 15 criminal counts involving theft, securities fraud, intentional evasion of Maine income tax and failure to pay Maine income tax.

The state alleged Robert Kenneth Lindell, 53, of Cloverdale, Calif., had defrauded two elderly widows out of more than $3 million and failed to pay taxes on the income he earned as a result of the fraud, instead receiving tax refunds he was not entitled to, Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw said in a news release.

Lindell, who served in the Maine House of Representatives as a Republican from 2004 to 2006, began acting as a securities agent for a widow from Belfast in the early 2000s, according to the news release from Maine Office of Securities. The two met weekly at her home to discuss her finances.

He was later named as the widow's power of attorney, co-personal representative of her estate upon her death, and trustee of trusts created for the benefit of her disabled veteran son. Lindell stole money from the widow, from her estate and from the trusts by writing checks to himself and his company, paying personal expenses with trust and estate money, and buying, renovating, and ultimately residing in a home in California wine country after purchasing the home with trust money, the state securities office stated.

The second widow, a resident of France, had known Lindell since he was born. He was the trustee of a trust set up for the widow's benefit by her late husband. As with the first widow, Lindell wrote checks to himself from her trust account and paid personal expenses using her funds.

"This is one of the most significant and troubling cases my office has investigated in over a decade," Shaw said. "Mr. Lindell was a trusted financial professional in Maine. But more than that, he was like family to these women. He groomed them for years in order to perpetrate these crimes preying on their trusting nature and vulnerabilities. This type of activity will not be tolerated especially from someone licensed to act as a securities professional in Maine."

The case was investigated by Senior Investigator Cathy Williams of the Maine Office of Securities and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein.

Bangor Daily News reported that Lindell, a former resident of Frankfort, is being held without bail in Penobscot County Jail pending his sentencing.

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, the BDN reported. He also could be ordered to pay restitution and back taxes.

The newspaper reported that his attorney stated that Lindell plans to seek a new trial.

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