May 6, 2011

Records show Maietta has history of tax liens

The Senate District 7 candidate also owes nearly $800,000 in a personal legal settlement.

By Edward D. Murphy
Staff Writer

The finances of Louis B. Maietta Jr., the Republican candidate in next week's special election in state Senate District 7, are more complex than those of most Mainers.

Maietta was not available to talk about his business and corporate finances this week, but interviews with lawyers involved in his financial affairs, along with documents provided to The Portland Press Herald, show a string of federal and local tax liens in the past decade and a personal legal settlement on which he owes nearly $800,000.

Maietta was in the Caribbean for a daughter's wedding this week. Multiple messages were left on his home phone, his cellphone and at Maietta Construction, and on his campaign manager's cellphone. None was returned.

The biggest personal financial issue is the result of a lawsuit filed against Maietta in 2007 by Marie E. Thomas, who was 92 at the time, claiming he borrowed more than $600,000 and failed to pay it back.

Thomas, who lives in Cape Elizabeth and Florida, was a friend of the Maiettas, said her attorney, Stephen Canders. She began to rely on Maietta for various chores after her husband died in the late 1990s, and eventually signed over power of attorney to him.

The lawsuit said from 1999 to 2003, Maietta gave three notes to Thomas, borrowing $390,000, with the notes secured by property on which Maietta had mortgages in Somerset County and South Portland. Canders said Maietta also borrowed other amounts and, in all, owed Thomas $602,000.

In 2003, Maietta and Thomas discharged the mortgages, meaning that Maietta's notes to Thomas no longer had the property as collateral. Maietta hadn't paid back any of the money he borrowed under the notes, Canders said.

Canders said Thomas, now 96, has a sound mind but never was adept at finances.

"She can be sharp," he said, "but she would rely on others for those kinds of matters."

Thomas kept notes on the disbursement of some of the money, Canders said, and indicated that Maietta used it to pay for property, a novelty business he intended to start, and a "golf entertainment" business in which he was interested.

After Thomas sued, Canders said, Maietta settled for $268,500 and agreed to monthly payments, with periodic larger amounts, over a five-year period.

Maietta's lawyer, Timothy Norton, said there was a dispute about the nature of the arrangement in which Thomas gave Maietta the money. Norton said he doesn't remember the details of the settlement, but he noted that Maietta did not admit wrongdoing as part of it.

Canders said Maietta initially kept up with payments on the settlement, but then started falling behind. Canders went back to court and used a "claw-back" provision in the settlement, which reinstated the original amount sought in the lawsuit, plus interest.

According to Canders, Maietta now owes more than $137,000, including the interest, on the original settlement. He also owes more than $640,000 as a result of the missed payments and the claw-back, plus interest.

Peter Cary, who is now Maietta's attorney, said he can't comment on a matter that's pending, but said settlement talks on the amount of money Maietta owes are under way.

Maietta has also fallen behind on his property tax payments on his house on Elderberry Drive in South Portland.

According to records in the city's Finance Department, Maietta never paid his 2009-10 taxes on the property, valued at $409,300, and now owes $6,741, including interest.

Maietta has also failed to pay the first three quarterly payments on this year's property taxes, which total $6,420, including interest, with the final installment due May 12.

South Portland issues tax liens in July if property taxes aren't paid by the end of the city's fiscal year, June 30.

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