BANGOR, Maine — An Enfield businessman described by a prosecutor as a “smooth talker” was convicted Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center of bilking three clients out of at least $13,500 since March 2014.
Charles Simon Jr., 36, was convicted of three counts of Class C theft by unauthorized taking or transfer on Thursday. State police had charged him with with five counts of theft on Dec. 24, 2015. Prosecutors dropped one count during the two-day trial and Superior Court Justice William Anderson acquitted Simon of another, officials said.
Anderson found Simon guilty of illegally selling in September 2014 restaurant equipment worth $6,000 for $1,500, of failing to fulfill a contract to build a cabin or barn for $9,600 in Enfield in March 2014 and of accepting $2,400 to provide a guided bear hunt with lodging and meals without providing those services.
One of the victims of Simon’s scams, 53-year-old Bruce Raymond of Medway, said he was grateful for the conviction and complimented Trooper Larry Anderson of the Maine State Police for compiling the case.
“He took several people besides me. Justice has finally been served,” Raymond said Friday.
Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Devon DeMarco said the three cases for which Simon was convicted involve differing circumstances with common threads. In each case, Simon displayed a veneer of professionalism that masked a lack of demonstrable intention or means to legally fulfill his contracts, she said.
“Even by his demeanor when he took the stand yesterday, he is a smooth talker and he has an answer for everything,” DeMarco said Friday. “I think it is human nature to want to think the best of people, and these are people who wanted work done.
“These people had no reason to disbelieve him when he entered into these contracts. They were typed contracts, looked professional,” she added.
Simon’s attorney, Nolan Tanous of Millinocket, said he was pleased that one charge was dropped and another dismissed. He described Simon as a struggling businessman who steadfastly maintains his innocence.
“He and his wife bought a restaurant and things just didn’t work out. That kind of steamrolled his money issues,” Tanous said Friday. “He understands that he owes these people money. He plans to pay all these people back, but he never believed that it belonged in criminal court in the first place. From the witness stand he said he would pay them. It may be a slow process, and he hopes to pay them back.”
In each case, DeMarco said, Simon appeared to embark upon the contracts knowing that he had no legal or practical means to fulfill them.
Simon claimed that he had the right to sell a fryolator and ice cream maker worth $6,000 for $1,500 from the Enfield eatery, Ronita’s Takeout Restaurant, that he was operating and hoped to eventually buy from its owner. But the owner financing agreement that he had already signed stated that all equipment was to stay on the property until he had paid fully for the restaurant, DeMarco said.
Simon accepted several payments from Raymond on the Enfield building contract “and had ample opportunity to follow through” but instead put time into renovating his own property, which showed an intent to defraud.
Raymond had already won a small-claims court decision ordering Simon to repay him $6,000, DeMarco said.
Simon also signed a $1,200 contract in December 2014 to provide a Pennsylvania man housing on the restaurant property and give the man a guided bear hunt on property owned by Simon’s family the following year, DeMarco said.
But Simon had already signed a foreclosure agreement vacating the restaurant in November 2014, was not a registered Maine guide, which the law requires, and a family member testified during the trial that Simon had never sought or received permission for the hunt or set bear bait on the family land, DeMarco said.
Simon also accepted an $800 payment from the Pennsylvania man in March 2015, DeMarco said.
Simon is due to be sentenced next month. No date has been set, DeMarco said.
He is free pending sentencing and working in the Bar Harbor area as a carpenter or subcontractor. To discourage flight from prosecution, conditions of his release from jail include a provision that he must be at home in Enfield from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, DeMarco said.
Raymond said he hoped no one would ever get conned like he was.
Simon “has got a good line, I guess. He acts like he knows what he is talking about, but when it comes down to it, he doesn’t,” Raymond said.