2012-12-14 / Community

Rent-A-Husband owner files complaint

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA - Kaile Warren, the owner of Rent-A-Husband LLC, had his case settled in criminal court more than a year ago. Now, he wants to again bring that case – specifically the conduct of Attorney General Janet Mills – in front of the public eye.

Warren filed a formal complaint with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar against Mills days before she was reappointed by the Maine Legislature as the state’s new attorney general. She had previously served in the same position from 2009 to 2010.

Warren made television appearances on the CBS “Early Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to build his business before charges of securities fraud were filed in 2009. He said he was in “survival mode” for two years since, but now has returned his focus to building his business and getting back on TV. He said he has been in talks with Tom MacArthur at WPFO FOX 23 to begin making appearances on “Good Day Maine,” which Warren hopes will lead to a syndicated show.

The charges against Warren were dropped in exchange for a $2 million civil settlement paid to investors in February of 2011. The state alleged he knowingly misled investors about the financial health of his company. Warren contended that Mills “knew all along and the evidence clearly shows that I had not done anything wrong, I was just following my lawyers’ advice.”

After his criminal case was settled, Warren filed suit against two law firms he claims gave him bad advice: Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau and Pachios and Marcus, Clegg & Mistretta, both of Portland, as well as Ace Hardware, who he said backed out of an agreement to buy Rent- A-Husband. Warren said those cases are still ongoing. His attorney, Daniel Lilley, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mills said it’s not all that uncommon for individuals charged with crimes to feel singled out unfairly. Via email, she said the Maine Board of Overseers “receives complaints against lawyers from unhappy litigants every day.” She also noted the Office of Securities started the investigation into fraud charges against Warren and the matter was resolved after William Schneider had replaced her in the Attorney General’s Office.

“The timing of Mr. Warren’s complaint, relating to a prosecution that happened three years ago, speaks for itself,” Mills wrote in the email. “His case was one of hundreds that were pursued by the office while I was Attorney General and it was not a case I took a heightened interest in,” Mills added.

But Warren pointed to Mills’ decision to join Preti Flaherty a few days after her first stint as attorney general ended, and a few days after charges against him were dropped, as evidence that she had a personal agenda when she oversaw his case. Mills joined the law office Feb. 24 2011.

“She knew (the lawyers at Preti Flahery) were guilty all along, and she never once made one single effort to prosecute them on any charge,” Warren said. “Instead she decided to go after the unknowing client. In my opinion that amounts to a pay for protection from prosecution.”

Mills said she did not have any pre-existing plans to join Preti Flaherty during her time in office, and she did not give the firm any preferential treatment as attorney general.

“The opportunity to join Preti Flaherty’s litigation group in an ‘of counsel’ capacity arose some time after I had left the Attorney General’s Office, ironically, after I had been doing battle with that same office repeatedly both in court and in the legislature during my time as Attorney General.”

Warren contacted a few legislators before Mills was sworn in as attorney general Wednesday, Dec. 5. Gary Plummer represents Windham, Warren’s hometown, in the Statehouse as the Republican District 111 congressman. He said he tried to help Warren with the practicalities of distributing information last minute to legislators, but “it was too late” for Warren’s claims to have any impact on the vote.

“Kaile and I talked about whether it would really change people’s opinions,” Plummer said. Things are very political up there. People who are supporting (Mills) would have looked at is as just an attempt to try to smear her.”

Warren said he was always planning on filing a formal complaint against Mills relating to his case, but he decided to accelerate the process when he found out a few weeks ago she was interested in returning to her former position in Augusta.

“When I saw her looking to become the attorney general again, I felt an obligation to the state of Maine,” Warren said. “The attorney general needs to be a person of integrity and Janet Mills does not have integrity.”

Plummer said he did not know enough facts about the case to have an opinion as to whether there was any wrongdoing. That opinion was shared by many of his fellow legislators.

“It’s not really a legislator’s purview to address allegations of misconduct of constitutional officers,” said Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth, who served as the state Senator for District 7 through 2012.

Warren contacted Dill through Facebook in late November to bring his case to her attention. He said he wanted to reach outside of his own district because he felt his case was a statewide, rather than regional, concern. Dill said constituents of hers usually call to set up an appointment, and she did not feel engaging in conversation on social media would be productive.

Dill responded to Warren with a message that stated, “Please stop writing to me. I do not wish to engage in a conversation with you. Thanks.”

Dill said she believes Janet Mills is “eminently qualified for the job” as attorney general. Barry Hobbins of Saco, the state representative for District 133, agreed. He seconded the largely ceremonial nomination of Mills on the house floor.

Hobbins said he found Mills to be “fair and competent” in his personal dealings with her in Augusta, and outlined her “extensive resume and background” in his remarks on the floor.

“If I did not think she was qualified I would not have seconded her nomination,” Hobbins said.

Action from the board of overseers is unlikely to come before the end of 2012, as the process usually takes a number of weeks to complete. Executive Director Jacqueline Rogers said all information about the pending case is kept confidential until a final ruling is made.

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