Attorney General William Schneider released a letter today saying the sale of three state-owned houses to the warden of the Maine State Prison violates state law.

 In a letter dated Friday, Schneider writes that the sale of 5.2 acres in Thomaston to Warden Patricia Barnhart “is void” because it violates state law that prohibits state officials from having a financial interest in “any contracts made on behalf of the state.”

 “We suggest that the parties and their counsel meet as soon as possible to discuss the process for unwinding this matter,” Schneider wrote.

 A legislative panel announced last week that it was investigating the sale. The state sold the property for $175,000, which was $283,000 less than the assessed value.

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