BANGOR — The former owner of a now-defunct Union contracting business has pleaded not guilty to theft by deception charges on Thursday.

Malcolm Stewart abruptly closed his business in September of 2019, leaving clients with unfinished projects that he had already been paid for, Bangor Daily News reported.

A Knox County grand jury charged Stewart in March, and according to the indictment he had 57 customers pay for home construction projects that he knew he could not have completed. According to the Maine attorney general’s office, Stewart received over $400,000.

In addition, Stewart also received an advance $50,000 loan from two customers in December 2018 after allegedly telling them that he had “cash flow problems because customers were not paying him,” according to a release from the attorney general’s office.

While he claimed that he would be able to repay the loans when he received them, he never did.

The judge presiding over the case denied Stewart’s request for a court-appointed attorney because the court found that Stewart does not financially qualify.

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