January 28, 2023
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Owners of Knox County contracting business must pay customers $744,000, judge rules

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A Knox County judge has ordered two former Mainers, Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart, and their now-defunct business in Union, Castle Builders, to pay $744,253 to former customers.

Justice Bruce Mallonee handed down his ruling Sept. 22 and the window of time to appeal has now passed. Liens against the Stewarts and their failed contracting company were filed in the Knox County Registry of Deeds last Friday.

The judge also barred the pair and the company from soliciting customers as a general contractor.

Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart

The Stewarts must pay the sum to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which will disburse any money received to the victims. A judgment, however, does not guarantee there is any money to recoup from the Stewarts.

The state won a default judgment after the couple left a Zoom call on what was to be the first day of a civil trial on Aug. 23.

In August 2021 an attachment of $359,350 was placed on the couple’s property in the town of Washington, including 15 acres and buildings valued at $285,171.

A case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court concluded in March with only $5,000 in claims being paid, while nearly $40,000 in administrative fees were paid. The initial claims filed in the bankruptcy case totaled more than $1.1 million including taxes and payroll. There were 177 creditors listed in their bankruptcy filing, and most of them were former customers of Castle Builders. Former workers, suppliers and the government were also listed as creditors.

In addition, Malcom Stewart was indicted in March 2021 by a Knox County grand jury for two counts of theft by deception. He pleaded not guilty in May 2021 and remains free on bail.

The next court hearing on the case is Jan. 20 in the Knox County court. Stewart’s attorney is asking for the charges to be dismissed, and if the case goes to trial to have it moved outside Knox County because of extensive pre-trial publicity.

Stewart, a Canadian citizen with a permanent U.S. residency card, now lives in Pelzer, South Carolina. He signed a Maine pre-trial contract and must have no contact with the scores of alleged victims. He also had to turn in his passport.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office filed an April 6 memo calling for a sentence of eight years in prison with all but five years suspended, to be followed by three years of probation for Stewart if he is convicted.

The criminal offenses are alleged to have occurred from April 2018 until September 2019 in Knox, Waldo, Hancock, Kennebec, Lincoln and Somerset counties.


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