Flanked by angry investors soured over their dealings with national handyman chain Rent-A-Husband, owner and Windham resident Kaile Warren pleaded not guilty to three counts of investment fraud Thursday morning in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.

Warren was released on personal recognizance and was ordered to report to court April 14 for a disposition conference. Any additional motions can be filed April 29, and jury selection for his trial begins May 14.

If convicted on all charges, Warren faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. He is charged with the class B crime of theft by deception and two class C charges, securities fraud and sale of unregistered securities.

When asked for comment, Warren referred all questions to his legal team, adding, “I shouldn’t even be here today.”

Formerly working with the law firm of Marcus, Clegg and Dean, Warren appeared in court Thursday with a new set of lawyers, notable Portland attorney Dan Lilley and assistant Darrick Banda. In speaking with reporters after the hearing, Lilley said Warren’s chances of being cleared are “fantastic.” Lilley blamed the recession for Warren’s inability to pay back investors, some of whom are owed in excess of $150,000.

“The recession, a business partner who pulled out (Ace Hardware), these things made it impossible for him to repay the investors,” Lilley said. “The investors were nai?ve to think he could pay back even a promissory note in this economic climate,” Lilley said.

Colleen Olsen, an investor in Rent-A-Husband who mortgaged her Windham home for Warren, wondered after the hearing how Warren can afford a high-powered lawyer.

“If he can afford a new lawyer, why didn’t he make a payment on our mortgage? Where is all his money coming from?” Olsen said outside the courthouse.

Several other investors, including one from Colorado, Lori Johnson, who said Warren still owes her $39,000, sat on the opposite side of the courtroom from Warren and his lawyers. After the arraignment, which lasted about 2 minutes, Joanne Grace of Kennebunk, said she was ready for the trial to commence. Grace contacted the Maine Office of Securities last summer, which started the state’s investigation into Warren’s investment practices.

“It’s just what I expected would happen today,” Grace said. “I’m just sad that we are at this point. I had hoped it would have been different, but the circumstances of what Warren did left me no alternative. I’m just happy to see this day come. It’s the beginning of a brand new journey.”

Former Windham councilor and Rent-A-Husband founder Kaile Warren, center, with his new legal team, Dan Lilley, left, and Darrick Banda, enters a plea of not guilty Thursday morning in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland. Warren is accused of three counts of investment fraud. Jury selection begins May 14.


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