LEWISTON — Former Auburn lawyer and recent candidate for district attorney Seth Carey has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of practicing law without a license.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office brought the misdemeanor charge against Carey, 44, of Rumford. He was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in 8th District Court.

His lawyer, James Howaniec of Lewiston, sent a letter to the court saying he would be representing Carey and was entering a not guilty plea for his client.

The charge is punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

A detective with the Attorney General’s Office wrote in the complaint Carey practiced law or represented himself as a lawyer from the end of April until Nov. 6, 2018, when he was not admitted to the Maine State Bar Association.

Carey, who owns a home in Rumford and opened a law office on Court Street in Auburn, has been barred from practicing law in Maine since April, months before his unsuccessful bid for district attorney of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

Carey won the Republican nomination for that office in a June primary. He lost the November election to incumbent Democrat Andrew Robinson.

The April suspension stemmed from a protection from abuse order issued against Carey by a Rumford District Court judge in early April.

Carey’s then-tenant at his Rumford home took Carey to court, where, after a four-hour hearing, she was granted the order after a judge had found Carey had engaged in unlawful sexual touching and domestic violence assault. Carey had represented himself at that hearing.

Carey’s license to practice law had been suspended in Maine in 2016, but he was able to get that suspension lifted by agreeing to specific conditions.

After the Rumford judge’s order for a protection from abuse order, the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar filed a petition for his immediate suspension in connection with the claims made by the woman who lived at his home. The court ordered an interim suspension after reviewing the evidence presented in district court during the protection from abuse hearing.

In September 2018, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ruled in an 18-page order Carey had violated several bar rules, including unlawful conduct stemming from his unwanted sexual advances involving a woman who lived at his Rumford home and his effort to pay for her silence about the matter.

Carey also had engaged in law practice and had written checks on his professional account after his April suspension, which prohibited those actions.

Warren’s decision came a month after a three-day hearing in August at which the Maine Board of Overseers pressed its case that Carey had violated at least four bar rules.

In December, Warren ruled Carey’s license be suspended for three years.

Carey has filed notice with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that he aims to appeal Warren’s decision.

Howaniec said Wednesday: “This complaint seems like overkill. Seth’s issues have been addressed through extensive litigation as part of the civil bar disciplinary process. Seth ran a competitive campaign for district attorney, which he ultimately lost. He has not taken on new clients, or accepted legal fees, or practiced in courtrooms during his suspension.”

Howaniec said Carey has been seeking to earn other “non-law-related” income since his suspension.

“We don’t believe any criminal statutes have been violated here,” Howaniec said.

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