AUGUSTA — The operator of a weatherization company in Albion pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax fraud charges, and the case was continued for sentencing to see whether he could repay the state about $36,000 in back taxes within the next six months.

Michael E. Turner, 54, who ran Energy Savers of Maine Inc., pleaded guilty in Kennebec County Superior Court to theft by misapplication of property, failing to collect tax, and two counts of failure to pay taxes or file returns.

Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein told Justice Robert Mullen that from 2009 to 2012, Turner conducted weatherization projects throughout central Maine for the company, which was listed as being owned by his wife even though he ran it.

Bernstein said Turner failed to forward taxes withheld from employee paychecks and instead used the money as his own.

“He said he didn’t have the money to pay the withholding taxes,” Bernstein said. However, Bernstein said an investigation by Maine Revenue Service showed the amount of money Turner spent on his personal mortgage, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and on other things exceeded the amount of tax owed.

Bernstein said Turner also owed about $8,000 in personal income taxes and that levies by the state had recouped some money already.

Turner’s attorney, Brad Grant, told the judge, “I would say there is another side of the story,” adding that he had provided information to the state that was reflected in the proposed sentencing arrangement. He did not elaborate on that part of the story in court.

“We anticipate paying restitution,” Grant said.

If Turner is successful in complying with the deferred disposition, the lone felony charge is to be reduced to a misdemeanor, and he will be sentenced on all the charges to 364 days in jail, with all but 30 days suspended, and one year of administrative release. If not, he would be subject to a maximum of five years in prison.

Among the conditions are that he file and pay his taxes on time.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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