The owner of a Brunswick senior housing complex pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly couple in her care.

Amy McLellan, 61, was arraigned at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland. She was indicted last month on felony counts of theft and misuse of entrusted property of a vulnerable person. She owns The McLellan, an apartment complex for seniors that opened last year.

A dozen other residents and friends sat in the courtroom behind McLellan and her attorney Tuesday. When she stood before the judge, McLellan said little other than to enter her pleas on the two charges. The hearing was brief, and when it ended, her supporters followed her outside to hug and comfort her.

McLellan and her attorney, Kristine Hanly, declined to comment outside the courtroom. Hanly later emailed a statement.

“We look forward to thoroughly challenging the allegations in Court,” she wrote. “In the meantime, Amy is focused on continuing to support the vibrant community of residents that live at the McLellan.”

McLellan is a registered nurse with an active license from the Maine State Board of Nursing. In 2016, she purchased a former nursing home on Cumberland Street in Brunswick and renovated it to become assisted living for people 62 years and older. The building has 18 apartments in addition to an owner’s residence. McLellan told The Times Record in a 2016 interview that she would be the resident nurse on the property.

In the indictment, McLellan is accused of misusing property entrusted to her by David Fratus, resulting in a loss of more than $10,000. She also is accused of committing theft “by obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over a business loan, property of Norway Savings Bank, of a value more than $10,000, with the intent to deprive Norway Savings Bank of the property.”

Assistant District Attorney Amanda Doherty said the second charge is related to allegations that McLellan wrongfully obtained her loan by misrepresenting where she was getting the money that would serve as collateral.

Brunswick police Cmdr. Mark Waltz described the case in more detail in an affidavit to support a search warrant last year. He wrote that the person who reported the suspected elder financial abuse was a nurse who had worked with McLellan at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and at her senior housing complex. The allegations were then investigated by local police and the Financial Abuse Specialist Team at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

McLellan befriended David and Frances Fratus when he was a patient at the hospital where she worked, the affidavit says. She later visited the couple at rehabilitation facilities and their condominium in Auburn. In April 2016, David Fratus executed a general power of attorney naming McLellan as his agent. Their attorney told investigators that he had never been consulted about that decision, the affidavit says, and the couple themselves could not later remember the circumstances. Frances Fratus also told investigators that she had once seen her husband kiss McLellan on the lips and she believed him to be in love with his nurse.

Over the next 16 months, bank records showed that the Fratuses gave McLellan more than $324,000 from their savings bonds and bank accounts. Even if some of that money was related to fees at the McLellan, where the couple moved in May 2017, Waltz wrote that the unexplained transfers amounted to 60 percent of their total assets.

“When I asked the Fratuses about the details surrounding the payments to McLellan, they could not recall any of the conversations leading up to the payments and did not know the details of their financial arrangements with McLellan,” Waltz wrote. “They were both clear, however, that the money was not a gift and they expected it to be repaid.”

Police executed the search warrant at the McLellan in October 2017, and they moved David and Frances Fratus out of The McLellan that same day.

McLellan remains free on personal recognizance bail.

Earlier this year, McLellan settled a lawsuit with David and Frances Fratus for an undisclosed amount of money. An attorney for the Fratuses has said the settlement agreement “serves to reimburse” the couple.

A background check showed McLellan has never faced other criminal charges in Maine. The two charges are Class B crimes, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Her next court date is a dispositional conference in December.

 

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