Part of the massive waste piles left behind at the property off Route 90 in Warren formerly owned by Randall Dunican. Stephen Betts/Courier-Gazette

A man who abandoned a massive waste disposal site near the Maine coast decades ago is now facing a potential prison sentence in Michigan after pleading guilty to defrauding an Indigenous tribe of more than $1 million.

Chester Randall Dunican is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday by Judge Robert Jonker in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Dunican faces up to 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release, but the actual sentence will likely be lighter.

The conviction relates to Dunican’s position from December 2015 through December 2016 as chief executive officer for Grand Traverse Band LLC, the economic development corporation created by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Dunican convinced the corporation’s board that his company, EverCleare Water Systems, would acquire water dispensers and filters and then lease them to customers to generate a profit. Dunican claimed he had an exclusive distribution agreement with a supplier, R.O. Equipment Distributors Company of Delaware LLC, and directed the tribe to wire almost $1 million to R.O. Distributors, according to a plea agreement reached in October 2022.

R.O. Distributors was actually a shell company controlled by Dunican and a co-conspirator and the equipment was available from other suppliers at far lower prices. Dunican and his co-conspirators then diverted the excess funds into their own bank accounts, according to the plea agreement.


After Dunican and his partners claimed they needed an additional $2 million to buy inventory, the plot fell apart and Dunican was fired, according to the federal court records. He was indicted in May 2021 on 34 counts including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and embezzlement from tribal organizations. The other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Charges against his son Ethan Dunican were also dropped as part of the plea agreement.

A co-conspirator, attorney Britan Douglas Groom, was sentenced Jan. 30 to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to repay $1,124,292 for attempted and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Dunican remains free on $25,000 bond.

The tribe said the theft damaged the trust between the tribal council and tribal members that will take years to repair. The Grand Traverse Band has more than 4,100 members, and 1,700 live in the tribe’s six-county service area.

A pre-sentence report by the U.S. Probation Office said Dunican’s offenses call for a prison sentence of five to over six years. Dunican’s defense attorney, Heath Lynch, seeks a sentence of no more than four years.

Dunican served in the armed forces and has maintained steady employment, the attorney said, and is nearly 70 years old with serious and chronic health conditions.


“Mr. Dunican’s motive for committing this offense was purely financial, and not at all malicious. Mr. Dunican expressed his remorse during his pre-sentence interview,” the defense lawyer told the court.

Dunican is known in Maine for several business ventures that became entangled in financial and legal problems.

In 1997, he bought land off Route 90 in Warren under the corporate name of Steamship Navigation Co. and touted plans to create the largest rifle range on the East Coast, with a retail store, a lodge for club members and a 7,000-square-foot indoor shooting range.

Dunican said, however, he needed to accept polyester fiber scraps from the former Gates Formed-Fibre Products Inc. of Auburn to create berms for the rifle range. Gates Formed-Fibre paid the Dunicans an estimated $1 million to accept the material that had been largely used to line the trunks of motor vehicles.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued an order to stop accepting waste after finding the Dunicans had brought in far more than had been allowed, created a fire hazard and had failed to establish an escrow account to cover the cost of any cleanup.

The owners abandoned the property after accepting more than 27,000 tons of waste, leaving huge mounds of uncovered material. Plans for the rifle range never materialized. The owners also failed to pay their property taxes, which forced residents to vote each year for 23 years on whether to foreclose.


The town had balked at foreclosing over fears of being held liable for the environmental cleanup. In December, residents finally agreed to foreclose and take ownership after reaching an agreement with the Maine DEP saying the town would not be liable.

Warren officials are currently considering options for the land, including selling all or part of it.

The Courier-Gazette contacted Chester Randall Dunican by telephone in January but he declined to comment. He did not respond to an email sent this month.

Dunican also operated Schooner Landing in Damariscotta, which included a restaurant on Main Street. Numerous liens and court judgments were filed against that business, with creditors saying they were not paid for goods and services.

Dunican also owned the Mt. Abrams ski resort in the western Maine town of Greenwood beginning in 1998. The resort also faced multiple liens. Camden National Bank foreclosed on Dunican’s loans associated with the ski resort in 2000.

The Dunicans sued Camden National Bank, winning a $1.5 million judgment in 2005, successfully arguing that the bank had promised to provide a loan for improvements to the ski resort but then reneged after much of the work had been done.

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