The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has disbarred Jonathan C. Hull, an attorney who lives in Newcastle and had practiced in Damariscotta until his August 2018 suspension, for five years, citing allegations of embezzlement from two nonprofits he served as treasurer and from two clients.
The court issued the decision June 10.
The decision lists various forms of conduct by Hull that violate the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, including conflict of interest; misconduct; illegal conduct; fraud, deceit, or dishonesty; and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Hull was arrested on Aug. 8, 2018 for his alleged embezzlement of approximately $24,750 from the Cheseborough Program, where he served as treasurer. The misappropriation of funds is alleged to have occurred from January 2016 to May 2018.
In May 2019, Hull was charged with theft from a second nonprofit, Seven Trees Inc., in the amount of approximately $47,000, according to the Supreme Court’s decision.
Hull paid back all the funds to the nonprofits, according to the decision.
The Cheseborough Program facilitates student exchanges between Bath, Maine and Tsugaru, Japan.
Seven Trees Inc. was the owner and steward of two homes for troubled youth, the Weymouth House in Bristol and the Curtis House in Jefferson, from the late 1970s until the homes closed in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
Hull is also cited for misconduct involving two former clients, Martha L. Hills, of Swoope, Va., and the estate of Wayne Plummer.
According to a complaint filed with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, in February 2018, Hull improperly charged Hills’ credit card in the amount of $3,480.88, but reversed the charge later that day when contacted by Hills.
The disbarment decision also details how, from 2009-2010, Hull withdrew approximately $47,300 in funds from the estate of Wayne Plummer without explanation. Hull started to repay the estate in 2010, but there is still an outstanding balance.
In response to the allegations, the board said Hull “offered minimal dispute and explanation.”
A claim filed by the estate of Wayne Plummer led to an award from the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection to the estate in the amount of $18,500, which Hull objected to.
In total, the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection has paid out $30,389.09 for reimbursement stemming from Hull’s misconduct. Hull has reached an agreement to resolve all the pending claims filed with the fund to date, although he reports that he does not have the funds to fully reimburse the claimants or the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.
According to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Maine Attorney General’s Office investigated the matter concerning the Plummer estate, but found it was beyond the statute of limitations for a criminal prosecution.
Damariscotta Police Chief Jason Warlick said Tuesday, June 23 that there are no new charges being considered against Hull at this time. Criminal charges in connection with the nonprofit cases have not been resolved.
The court, in considering Hull’s disbarment, examined his mental state during the time period in question. Although Hull was diagnosed in 2018 with post-traumatic stress disorder connected to his military service during the Vietnam War and has been under medical care for diabetes, high blood pressure, and a sleep disorder, the court found that his actions were “intentional in nature.”
Hull faces charges of class B forgery, class B theft by unauthorized taking, and class D misuse of entrusted property in connection with the Seven Trees case, as well as one count each of class B forgery, class B theft by unauthorized taking, class D misuse of entrusted property, and class E falsify private records in connection with the Cheseborough Program case.
Hull pleaded not guilty to all seven counts May 16. Assistant District Attorney A.J. Chalifour, who is prosecuting the case, could not be reached for comment.