Portland police have seized the work computer used by the late attorney Daniel G. Lilley’s former bookkeeper, who is accused in a lawsuit of siphoning more than $850,000 from his law firm, court records show.

Two search warrants granted by judges in Portland Unified Criminal Court last month describe how police believe Jaime Butler, 39, of Falmouth used electronic accounting software to cover up a scheme to write herself checks from Lilley’s accounts.

Butler, who has not been charged with a crime but is under investigation by police and has been sued by Lilley’s family, was fired from Lilley’s firm, Daniel G. Lilley Law Offices, in April after the well-known Maine attorney’s children discovered accounting discrepancies.

Richard Berne, a defense attorney hired by Butler, said in a phone interview that his client vigorously denies any wrongdoing.

“We are in the early stages of the investigation and we’re confident that when all the information is brought to bear, including truthful testimony of the several people who have knowledge about these allegations, they will prove to be greatly exaggerated,” Berne said.

According to the warrant affidavits written by Portland Police Detective Kelly Gorham for the search and seizure of the Dell desktop computer, Butler was the only person in Lilley’s firm with administrator-level access to QuickBooks, the accounting software used by the firm, and that when Lilley’s family began examining the records, the software showed a negative balance of $83,000.

The affidavits are based on Gorham’s interviews with two attorneys who were appointed as receivers of Lilley’s law practice – Lilley’s son and daughter-in-law, Daniel G. Lilley Jr. and Elaine Lilley – and his widow, Annette P. Lilley.

According to the affidavit, Lilley’s family found evidence that Butler used the QuickBooks software to print checks that appeared to be destined for a vendor or other legitimate recipient, but were altered later to be diverted to her.

In another instance, the affidavit describes a discrepancy in how much money Butler said was deposited into Annette Lilley’s account after the sale of a building – a difference of $120,000.

According to the family, Butler’s unauthorized checks totaled $76,670.65 in 2013, $223,862.04 in 2014, $288,350 in 2015, $239,795.80 in 2016, and $15,656.78 in 2017.

Some of the checks were allegedly written to Butler and signed by Lilley when he was either out of the state or otherwise couldn’t have signed them, according to the affidavit, including one when Lilley was on vacation in Marathon, Florida, and another in February 2017, when a check was dated and signed after Lilley entered the intensive care unit before his death.

The civil suit against Butler making the same allegations was filed in April, but has been put on hold for six months pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, according to court records.

On April 24, a judge issued an attachment order on Butler’s assets, preventing her from moving them out of state or otherwise concealing them if the lawsuit succeeds.

According to the search warrant affidavit, Butler declined to speak with a detective when approached at her Falmouth home.

“After working for a lawyer all these years, I think I’d like to talk to a lawyer before I talk to you,” Butler said, according to the affidavit.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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