A Hallowell mental health and addiction treatment agency that closed suddenly in September — leaving a few hundred clients without services — was under investigation for fraud and owed more than $300,000 to the state, according to emails exchanged among state health officials, agency staff members and others in the weeks that followed.

The privately owned agency, Protea Integrated Health and Wellness, had operated at the Hallowell site since 2012, as well as at several satellite locations, and was serving more than 300 clients. It offered Suboxone treatment and counseling to those recovering from opiate addiction, as well as community integration services for those with mental illness.

But in September, Protea entered a tailspin after a business partner withdrew about $20,000 in cash from its accounts and a third-party investor stopped providing revolving loans for its operations. One of Protea’s principals, Leigh Leighton, tried to find another investor; but when he couldn’t, the agency suddenly closed at the end of September, according to copies of Maine Department of Health and Human Services emails obtained by the Kennebec Journal under the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

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