A Brunswick attorney who was suspended for alleged ethics violations has pleaded not guilty to criminal theft charges.

James Whittemore faces two counts of theft by misapplication of property and one count of theft by unauthorized taking. He pleaded not guilty Thursday morning, according to a clerk at the Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court. He is on personal recognizance bail.

The indictment identifies three separate allegations.

On Oct. 4, 2013, Whittemore allegedly took money from the Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club, a life insurance company, that was supposed to go to a man’s estate and family. Starting on Oct. 18, 2016, the lawyer is accused of taking money from a trust that was supposed to go to its five beneficiaries. Beginning Jan. 31, 2017, Whittemore allegedly took money again, this time from a donor to the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust.

In all three counts, the indictment states the amount involved is greater than $10,000. Few further details are included in the criminal case file.

The next hearing in Whittemore’s case has not been scheduled yet. His attorney, Justin Andrus, did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar submitted a petition for Whittemore’s suspension in July. The following month, Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills granted an immediate interim suspension. Mills’ order requires Whittemore to shut down his law practice, which the court has placed in receivership.

“Under the facts presented by the Board, this Court concludes that Attorney Whittemore’s misconduct serves as an imminent threat to clients, the public and to the administration of justice,” Mills wrote in her Aug. 7 order.

The original affidavit attached to the petition outlined two separate complaints against Whittemore. In both, the clients allege the attorney never delivered money owed to them from his client trust account. In one complaint, the missing amount is more than $150,000. In the second, it is $100,000. The names of the clients in both of those cases match the names of the victims in the criminal case.

Shortly after Whittemore was suspended, Angela Twitchell, executive director of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, filed a similar complaint. She alleged that the land trust’s anonymous donor sent $15,000 to Whittemore to be held in escrow for an easement purchase, but that money disappeared. The closing on that purchase has still not happened, and the land trust is seeking restitution on the donor’s behalf.

Last week, Whittemore submitted an answer in the ethics complaint that denies or declines to comment on the allegations.

Whittemore, 69, lives in Bath. His website is no longer active, but it used to say that he received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. He attended Boston University Law School and received his law degree from the Maine School of Law. He opened his private practice in Brunswick in 2006. His website listed a wide range of services, including personal injury cases, civil litigation, real estate law and family disputes.

The number listed for his law office has been disconnected.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

________________________________

CLARIFICATION: This story was updated at 4:46 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2018, to clarify that the money referred to in one complaint was allegedly stolen from a donor to the land trust and not from the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust.

filed under: