The owners of the now-defunct Castle Builders have lost a civil case by default on Tuesday. Credit: Lauren Abbate / BDN

The owners of a defunct contractor business that were found to have defrauded their clients have been ordered to pay more than $740,000 in restitution.

That comes after Malcolm and Elizabeth Stewart lost their case in civil court by default after ducking out of a Zoom hearing in August. The presiding Justice Bruce Mallonee ordered $744,253 in restitution for more than a dozen homeowners at the request of the Maine attorney general’s office.

That amount was finalized in court this week, CBS 13 reported on Thursday.

Malcolm Stewart still faces a criminal trial for two counts of theft by authorized taking. The Maine attorney general’s office did not immediately say on Thursday whether Stewart had made a court appearance.

Stewart allegedly took deposits from 57 customers for home construction work that was never done.

Stewart   pleaded not guilty to both counts.

Stewart abruptly closed his Union-based business, Castle Builders, in September 2019, leaving   clients with unfinished projects that had already been paid and 22 employees out of work.

The total amount of money Stewart gained through this process was more than $400,000. Despite receiving deposits from these customers, Stewart usually performed no work for the money, but in a few instances a minimal amount of work was started, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.

Stewart also received an advance $50,000 loan from two customers in December 2018. He allegedly told the customers he had “cash flow problems because customers were not paying him,” the attorney general’s office said at the time of the indictment.

While he claimed to have the capacity to pay back the loan when the customers gave him money, Stewart never repaid the loan.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.