ROCKLAND — A judge has agreed to approve a $693,000 seizure of properties owned by a company and three of its members accused of defrauding an elderly couple.
The company’s attorney denies the allegations and said the company and its members were engaging in legitimate business transactions and the couple would be reimbursed.
Judge Bruce Mallonee approved the July 5 foreclosure in Knox County Court in a civil lawsuit filed the same day by Gerald and Marianne Lassell of Washington against SRB Homes LLC; Robert L. Milliken II and Robin S. Milliken of Union; and Branden L. Rubenstein of Jefferson. All three are listed as registered members of SRB.
Mallonee approved the seizure without a hearing, stating in his decision that “there is a clear risk that the defendants, if given advance notice of the seizure of the assets, may remove them from the state or hide or otherwise render them unavailable to satisfy a judgment.”
He also said that, based on information filed with the court, the Lassells will likely recover a judgment equal to or greater than $693,000.
The seizure order was filed Aug. 2 in the deeds of Knox, Lincoln and Kennebec counties where the defendants own properties.
The lawsuit alleges SRB knocked down houses and borrowed money from the Lassells, both in their 90s. Civil lawsuit claims defendants took out 18 loans to couple ranging from $6,500 to $80,000 from 2015 but failed to repay many of them, totaling up to $468,000 in unpaid principal and $225,000 in interest. The loans were contracted until 2019.
SRB is listed in its annual report as being involved in the real estate investment, purchase, rehabilitation, sale and rental of real estate. The Lassells met Robin Milliken in 2015 after the couple placed an ad in Uncle Henry’s asking for help renovating and selling the home of Gerald Lassell’s late parents.
The lawsuit makes frequent reference to Robin Milliken and dealings with the Lassells on behalf of SRB. The other two defendants are mentioned only as SRB leaders.
The lawsuit stipulates that SRB would acquire properties and take out loans with verbal agreements with the Lassells to repay each of the loans within one year at 10% interest. In many of these cases, the loans were not repaid as agreed or were repaid in lesser amounts, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit argues that the Lassells lent a significant portion of their savings that the defendants had no intention of repaying.
“Robin Milliken repeatedly stopped by the plaintiffs’ homes, chatting with them in a friendly manner, offering to massage Ms. Lassell’s feet, bringing small gifts such as groceries and prepared dinners, and acting as manner to increase the plaintiffs’ trust and affection,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit further alleges that Robin Milliken posed as a victims’ advocate in an unrelated legal case with Union in which a contractor, Malcolm Stewart, is accused of taking money from more than 50 clients in 2018. -19 and either not doing the job or doing a partial and lousy job. The Stewart case – both civil and criminal – remains pending in court. The lawsuit points out that Robin Milliken made statements to the media posing as a victims’ advocate in this case.
“This self-promotion is, for lack of a better word, brazen. Ms. Milliken has proven herself by going out of her way to appear publicly virtuous while privately robbing the Lassells,” the civil lawsuit filed by the Lassells claims.
The lawsuit further alleges that she attempted to become involved in the Lassells’ estate planning, stating that the defendants had no intention of paying off the Lassells “while they live and breathe.” Instead, the lawsuit said the Lassells were asked to assign the debt to their estate.
Attorney Steven Peterson, who represents the Millikens, said there was no fraud. Petersons said the Lassells loaned the company money to repair homes and then resell them for a profit. Many of these houses are still being renovated before being sold.
“They will be paid in full,” he said.
Peterson said the Millikens repeatedly asked to put the loan agreements in writing, but the Lassells did not sign them.
“The Millikens hope to work with them and make everyone whole,” he said.
The Lassells are represented by attorneys Stephen Smith and Carl Woock.
SRB and the defendants have not yet been formally served with the lawsuit and therefore have not filed a formal response to the allegations in court.
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