A Penobscot County jury must resolve whether or not a former Newport lawyer intentionally stole $290,000 from a consumer’s property 10 years in the past or whether or not the affect of a head damage prevented him from forming the intent to interrupt the legislation.
Dale Thistle , 74, of Quebec Metropolis, Quebec, has pleaded not responsible to at least one rely of theft by misapplication, a Class B crime as a result of amount of cash concerned.
Thistle’s trial, delayed by the pandemic, started Wednesday on the Penobscot Judicial Heart in Bangor earlier than a jury of 10 ladies and 4 males, together with two alternates, with Superior Courtroom Justice William Anderson presiding. The case is predicted to go to the jury for a verdict on Friday.
The cash Thistle is accused of stealing was a portion of a $390,000 wrongful dying settlement meant for the property of Gilman Good friend, who died in December 2010 on the age of 82 as the results of a fall at his Newport house, in response to opening statements made to jurors Wednesday. Thistle was entitled to about $96,000 in authorized charges.
Good friend’s widow, Donna Good friend, employed Thistle to sue Sebasticook Valley Hospital’s ambulance service for wrongful dying, and Thistle negotiated the settlement.
It turned out, nonetheless, that Donna Good friend was not entitled to the cash as a result of she and Gilman Good friend had divorced earlier than his dying however continued dwelling collectively.
Thistle ought to have turned the settlement cash over to Gilman Good friend’s property and his 4 youngsters, in response to the Maine Legal professional Common’s workplace, which is prosecuting the case.
Assistant Legal professional Common Charles Boyle advised jurors in his opening assertion that Thistle was in critical monetary bother when he obtained the settlement within the wrongful dying case.
“He was an skilled legal professional who knew higher than to steal from his shoppers,” Boyle stated. “There have been tax liens on his property as a result of he owed the Inside Income Service and the Maine Income Companies again taxes, and he owed alimony to his ex-wife.
“He noticed a possibility and he took it,” the prosecutor continued. “He took it when nobody was wanting, and he took all of it. By the point anybody got here searching for the cash, none of it was left.”
Initially, Thistle was accused of stealing $260,000, however that quantity was revised upward throughout trial preparation.
Thistle’s legal professional, Will Ashe of Ellsworth, stated that his consumer opened his legislation observe in 1992 as a second profession after being a faculty trainer and a restaurant proprietor. Thistle grew to become referred to as “a talented trial lawyer,” who dealt with complicated civil rights circumstances, Ashe stated.
That every one modified on Nov. 17, 2011, when a drunken driver struck the automobile Thistle was driving.
“At first, it appeared that he had suffered no important accidents, however a couple of days later at a household Thanksgiving dinner, he was talking gibberish. His authorized observe instantly suffered. He can’t open his mail, he doesn’t reply to emails, he doesn’t return cellphone calls.”
Whereas the litigation that led to the settlement started in late 2020, Thistle didn’t obtain the settlement till early 2012, a couple of months after he sustained the pinnacle damage, Ashe stated.
Two of Gilman Good friend’s youngsters testified Wednesday that they didn’t be taught their father had divorced their step-mother or that there had been a wrongful dying declare and settlement till after she died in October 2014.
The trial is predicted to proceed Thursday.
Thistle has not practiced legislation in Maine since June 2014, when he was suspended by the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar resulting from a incapacity. The criticism that led to the suspension was filed by Gilman Good friend’s youngsters. The board shared its info with the legal professional common’s workplace.
If convicted of theft, Thistle faces as much as 10 years in jail and a fantastic of as much as $10,000. He additionally could possibly be ordered to pay restitution to Gilman Good friend’s heirs.