AUGUSTA — Two women have been indicted by a grand jury for allegedly bilking an elderly Trenton man with dementia out of what could be more than $200,000.
Lisa Harriman, 54, of Mariaville was indicted Oct. 6 on single counts of theft by unauthorized taking and misuse of entrusted property.
Kathleen Prunier, 58, of Trenton, a veterinarian who operates the Your Pet’s Next Best Friend veterinary clinic in Bar Harbor, was indicted on a single count of theft by deception.
The indictments follow an investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office.
According to the indictment, Harriman committed theft by obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over cash with an aggregate value in excess of $10,000 during the period beginning Nov. 19, 2012, and ending July 17, 2015. Harriman additionally was indicted for allegedly violating her duty as a fiduciary in managing money belonging to the victim.
Prunier is accused of committing theft by taking control of the victim’s property as “a result of deception,” by creating the impression that real estate she purchased from the victim was valued at a considerably lower amount than its assessment for tax purposes.
Timothy Feeley, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Monday that the attorney general, at this time, had no further comment.
A relative of the victim did provide details regarding the allegations against the two women.
Bob Byron of North Yarmouth, a former Maine State Police trooper, said his wife, Jamilyn, is the niece of the 83-year-old victim. The family has been following the case since they first reported their concerns to state police after Harriman attempted to cash in a $150,000 life insurance policy in the victim’s name to pay expenses after “she ran out of cash,” Byron said.
Cashing in that policy prematurely resulted in the victim paying $37,000 in penalties, Byron said. That raised red flags with the family.
What they discovered, Byron said, is that Harriman, who also is a niece of the victim, moved into the victim’s home shortly after his wife died in October 2012.
According to Byron, Harriman soon asserted herself, taking control of the victim’s finances, allegedly adding her name as a signatory to gain access to his bank accounts. Harriman also falsely represented herself as having power of attorney in regards to the victim, Byron said.
An affidavit of a null deed filed in the Hancock County Registry of Deeds in August 2015 by Ellsworth attorney Valerie Chiasson supports Byron’s latter claim. Filed just weeks after Harriman’s alleged thefts ended, the document voids a deed for property granted to a couple in February 2015 because Harriman, who also goes by Lisa Camber, “does not and did not hold power of attorney” regarding the victim.
One of Harriman’s last actions, Byron said, was writing herself a check for $100,000 from the victim’s bank account and marking on the check that it was a “gift.”
Prunier, Byron said, took advantage of the victim by befriending him and convincing him to sell her a 6-acre property with a right-of-way to the shore, valued by the town at $77,000, for much less. According to a contract between Prunier and the victim effective July 14, 2014, and filed in the registry of deeds, Prunier purchased the property for $4,000, which was to be paid in monthly installments of $49.38 and with no interest.
Although the indictments state that the thefts in both cases exceed $10,000, Byron estimates the total loss at more than $200,000. By the time family members became concerned about Harriman’s activities, tax liens were placed on his property, and bills were not being paid.
“He was absolutely flat broke,” Byron said. “It was just a sad situation.”