Some of the massive waste piles left behind at the property off Route 90 in Warren formerly owned by Chester Randall Dunican. Stephen Betts/Courier-Gazette

The sentencing of a former Maine man who pleaded guilty in Michigan to defrauding an Indigenous tribe of more than $1 million was postponed this week when he informed the court he had car problems and was unable to make it to a Tuesday hearing.

The U.S. District Court of Western Michigan said no new sentencing date had been scheduled for Chester Randall Dunican, who decades ago abandoned a massive waste dump near the Maine coast.

Dunican pleaded guilty in October in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Michigan case.

The conviction relates to Dunican’s position from December 2015 through December 2016 as chief executive officer for Grand Traverse Band LLC, the economic development corporation created by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Dunican convinced the corporation’s board that his company, EverCleare Water Systems, would acquire water dispensers and filters and lease them to customers to generate a profit. Dunican directed the tribe to wire almost $1 million to a supplier that was actually a shell company controlled by Dunican and a co-conspirator – the equipment was available from other suppliers at far lower prices. Dunican and his co-conspirator then diverted the excess funds into their own bank accounts, according to a plea agreement reached in October 2022.

He was indicted in May 2021 on 34 criminal charges that included conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and embezzlement from tribal organizations. The other charges, including those against his son Ethan Dunican, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.


Dunican faces up to 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release. A pre-sentence report said that his offenses call for a prison sentence of 63 to 78 months. Dunican’s defense attorney Heath Lynch is asking for a sentence of no more than 48 months.

In 1997, Chester and Kathleen Dunican bought land off Route 90 in Warren and proposed creating the largest rifle range on the East Coast. Dunican said he needed to accept polyester fiber scraps from the former Gates Formed-Fibre Products Inc. of Auburn to create berms for the indoor rifle range.

The Dunicans were paid an estimated $1 million from Gates Formed-Fibre to accept the waste material. Opponents of the range questioned whether the Dunicans were simply using the property as an unlicensed dump so they could be paid for accepting the material.

The couple abandoned the property after accepting more than 27,000 tons of waste. The plans for the massive rifle range did not materialize.

They also failed to pay property taxes, which forced Warren residents to vote each year for 23 years on whether to foreclose on the contaminated property.

On Dec. 7, 2022, residents finally agreed to foreclose and take ownership after the Maine DEP decided that the town would not be liable for the environmental cleanup.

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