HALLOWELL — In June, a Randolph businessman called the Kennebec Journal to report the reopening of the former Boynton’s Market, a downtown staple in the city since 1936 until its closing in early 2011.

Thomas Hibbert, then 56, of Randolph, said he was going to open the Hallowell General Store in the brick building on the corner of Union and Water streets. He said it was to be a small grocery with take-out and eat-in food options with a full deli, and he’d work 12- to 14-hour days in the market.

But then Hibbert learned the Kennebec Journal was going to publish a story detailing a past that included a guilty plea for stealing thousands of his elderly mother’s money, a 2006 bankruptcy filing and a June lawsuit filed against him in Cumberland County Superior Court alleging he stole $80,000 of a mentally ill alcoholic’s money. The story ran June 23.

Hibbert gave the keys to the store back to building owner Steven Baker of Pittston.

In an interview, Hibbert identified himself as Tom Hubbard. Later, Baker said in negotiations Hibbert gave him the name Tom Bidden. Hibbert denied to the Kennebec Journal he’d given Baker that name.

Hibbert told the Kennebec Journal in June he changed his last name to Hubbard. No records of that exist in any of Maine’s probate courts and he signed Thomas L. Hibbert on a July 29 answer to the lawsuit filed against him in June.

In the June interview with the Kennebec Journal, he said he was the humble son of a post office janitor and a shoe saleswoman and “not one to have bags of money.”

He neglected to mention a 2010 conditional guilty plea in Lincoln County Superior Court to one count of felony theft after being arrested in 2007 on charges of stealing $74,000 from his elderly mother.

As part of the plea, he agreed on Jan. 11, 2010, to pay $30,000 in restitution to the Lincoln County district attorney’s office over a one-year period. If he paid it all, the charge would be dropped. But if he didn’t, the guilty plea was to be reinstated and a guilty verdict entered, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, plus restitution.

By June, Lincoln County District Attorney Geoff Rushlau said Hibbert, more than five months overdue, had only paid a fraction of the restitution. By then, disposition hearings had been repeatedly continued upon request from Hibbert’s attorney, Leonard Sharon.

And nearly a year after his initial deadline, Hibbert is a free man.

Last week, Rushlau said Hibbert had a court date in December, where he was given until January’s end to come up with at least $11,000 in restitution. No information on why the deadline was extended was available.

Hibbert’s troubles aren’t over.

Also in June, Portland attorney Thomas Cox filed suit against Hubbard in Cumberland County Superior Court, saying he stole $80,000 from a mentally ill Bailey Island woman struggling with alcoholism. Cox’s complaint says Hibbert befriended her at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 2004 or 2005.

According to a complaint, the woman, Krista Johnson gradually gave him control of her finances. Cox alleged Hibbert helped her take a predatory mortgage loan, gained access to her checking account and didn’t pay her insurance, bills and taxes while she was in a Bangor outpatient home.

In 2008, the complaint alleges, Johnson granted Hibbert power to sell, lease, mortgage or deal in any respect with her Bailey Island property.

He allegedly used that to apply for a $139,000 mortgage loan, secured by the house at 13.9 percent interest. Cox said Hibbert fabricated a letter on fake letterhead from the Bangor facility she was staying at to secure the loan.

Cox said Hibbert’s actions tortured Johnson, leaving her broke and living in public housing, after she inherited her childhood home and $90,000 from her late father. Cox, on behalf of Johnson, is suing for losses, plus punitive damages.

In Hibbert’s answer to the suit, which Cox provided to the Kennebec Journal, Hibbert denied facts given by Cox as evidence of eight counts levied against him in the lawsuit, including three counts of fraud, two of conversion and two of breach of fiduciary duty.

Hibbert wrote in response to all counts that he is seeking “reasonable attorney’s fees” resulting from the suit, as “he did nothing wrong to cause plaintiff harm, as everything was done with plaintiff’s knowledge and was agreed upon between plantiff’s (sic) and defendant.”

At the site of the old Hallowell store, Baker said that since June he has put in a new furnace and updated the electrical system in the building, which will be put up for lease soon. He said five or six people are interested in leasing, with proposed plans for the building ranging from antique store to restaurant to Laundromat.

Meanwhile, the Boynton name is slated for a return this month to Hallowell one building north of the old store.

Boynton’s Market was incorporated in mid-December by 23-year Hallowell residents Donald and Ruth Lachance, who signed a 10-year lease for two Water Street storefronts owned by Jeanne Langsdorf, also of Hallowell.

Michael Shepherd — 621-5632

[email protected]

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