PORTLAND – A judge will decide in the coming days whether criminal charges against a well-known Windham businessman should be dismissed or the case should proceed to trial later this year.

Justice Thomas Warren heard arguments Friday on the motion to dismiss the charges against Kaile Warren. The hearing in Cumberland County Superior Court lasted about an hour. The judge said he expects to issue a decision as soon as possible.

Kaile Warren founded the Rent-A-Husband handyman business in 1996 and gained national media attention for his franchise concept, including multiple appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and a contract to appear regularly on CBS’s “The Early Show.”

He was indicted in December and again in April on felony counts of securities fraud, theft by deception and sales of unregistered securities. Warren has pleaded not guilty and has publicly criticized the state for bringing the charges against him.

Defense attorneys Daniel Lilley and Darrick Banda say that if the Rent-A-Husband founder broke any laws, he did so unintentionally and he was simply acting on the advice of his former law firm, Preti Flaherty.

Lilley and Banda say the entire case against Warren should be dismissed because he did not have a “culpable state of mind.” Under the relevant statute, the state must prove that Warren knew he was selling securities that should have been registered with the state, Banda told Justice Warren at Friday’s hearing.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Michael Colleran, disagreed. He said Warren can be held criminally responsible for fraud and for selling unregistered securities even if he had no criminal intent.

“The state need not prove the defendant understood the law,” Colleran said.

State securities regulators accuse Warren of duping investors by claiming that Rent-A-Husband was successful, when in fact it was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Warren allegedly used some of the money from investors to pay for restaurant meals and other personal expenses, and failed to inform new investors about money he owed to prior investors.

According to the state, Warren owed $240,000 on promissory notes in 2003; by August 2009, that figure had ballooned to more than $1.6 million, owed to dozens of investors.

Warren said his investors knew the risks and signed documents with the understanding that returns were not guaranteed. He has said he is the victim of a small group of disgruntled investors, a law firm that gave him bad advice and an overzealous prosecutor.

Justice Warren also heard arguments Friday in an ongoing dispute between Colleran and Preti Flaherty, over whether the firm must turn over documents related to its work with Warren and the Rent-A-Husband business.

The judge said he will review the documents and then make a decision.

Preti Flaherty says it has not represented Warren since the spring of 2008, and has declined comment on Warren’s claim that the firm is to blame for his legal trouble.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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