A woman accused last year in a lawsuit of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a prominent Portland lawyer has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in the case.

Jaime Butler of Falmouth, who had been a bookkeeper for Daniel G. Lilley, pleaded not guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court to four counts of unauthorized taking and one count of forgery. She faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 on each count.

Lilley, who died last March at 79, was probably the best known defense lawyer in Maine.

After his death, his daughter and widow began going through his firm’s books and discovered, they said, that Butler had embezzled thousands of dollars from the firm since 2013. They alleged in a lawsuit filed against Butler that the amount taken totaled more than $850,000 and said some of the checks with Lilley’s signature were made out after he had been admitted to a hospital and would have been unable to sign a check.

The criminal charges don’t detail how much Butler is alleged to have taken, only saying on each count that the amount totaled more than $10,000, the threshold for making it a Class B crime. The charges say that in addition to writing out checks from the firm to herself – the court file contains a stack of copies of 364 of the checks – she also received unauthorized checks from the firm’s payroll company, used Lilley’s credit card to make purchases on Amazon and gained control over Lilley’s home equity line of credit.

Butler’s next court date is in April and the case could go to trial as early as June.

The lawsuit has been put on hold, pending the outcome of the criminal case against Butler, said Walter F. McKee, who filed the civil action on behalf of the Lilley family.

Lilley was perhaps best known for his successful 1990 defense of Jackie Bevins of Ogunquit, who was acquitted of murder despite having shot her husband 15 times, pausing to reload her gun to continue shooting. Lilley said Bevins suffered from “battered wife syndrome,” which drove her to shoot her husband.

He also won an acquittal on tax evasion charges for Tony DiMillo, the owner of a popular Portland waterfront restaurant, in 1985. But he was less successful with some recent clients, including Mark Strong Sr., who was found guilty of running a Kennebunk prostitution operation with a Zumba instructor, and Linda Dolloff, who was convicted of attempted murder for beating her husband nearly to death. She claimed that someone broke into the couple’s Standish home and beat her husband, then shot her in the hip. Jurors concluded she beat her husband with a softball bat and then shot herself in the hip and falsely claimed that a home invasion had taken place.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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