Former Auburn lawyer and one-time district attorney candidate Seth Carey was arrested Tuesday in Florida on multiple charges, including attempted gross sexual assault, after a three-year investigation, according to a Maine State Police spokeswoman.

Seth Carey Orange County Jail photo

Seth Carey, 46, of Rumford is being held at the Orange County Jail in Orlando. He was arrested at gunpoint at a Walmart parking lot, according to his Lewiston lawyer, James Howaniec.

Police began investigating Carey in March 2018, when a 34-year-old woman reported to the Rumford Police Department that Carey had sexually assaulted her, according to Maine State Police spokeswoman Katherine England.

After working with local, state and federal agencies, police secured a warrant last month to arrest Carey on two felony charges — attempted gross sexual assault and attempted aggravated sex trafficking — and three misdemeanors: unlawful sexual contact, domestic assault and engaging in prostitution.

The felonies carry prison sentences of up to 10 years and up to five years, respectively.

Because Carey had practiced as a defense attorney in the Rumford area and, later, in Auburn, the local District Attorney’s Office (Prosecutorial District III) referred investigation into any possible criminal conduct to the Maine State Police in conjunction with the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office in Ellsworth.

Maine State Police worked cooperatively with the Rumford Police Department and the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office to bring resolution to this complaint, England said.

“Due to the nature of the complaint and the related evidence involved, including the judicial review of warrants and records, this investigation took more than three years to complete,” England said.

“Today’s arrest is the culmination of three years of investigation by the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit – South and the review by the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office,” England wrote. “Special thanks to the United States Marshal Service Maine Violent Offender Task Force and the Florida Caribbean/Regional Fugitive Task Force for their assistance in locating and apprehending Carey while he was traveling out of state.”

The arrest comes just over a year after Carey reached an agreement with prosecutors on a misdemeanor criminal charge of unauthorized practice of law.

In February 2020, Carey signed off on papers in Androscoggin County Superior Court that promised over the next year he would not engage in new criminal conduct and would comply with the conditions of the three-year suspension of his law license imposed in December 2018 by a Maine judge.

Maine Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren had ordered Carey’s suspension, ruling he had committed sexual assault, tampered with a witness and failed to comply with a previous interim suspension order, among other violations.

According to court records, the victim had been living with him in his Rumford home when the assaults occurred. It was reported during civil court hearings that Carey had tried to pay for her silence about the matter.

Since Carey was admitted to the Maine Bar in 2006, his license to practice law in Maine has been suspended four times for violations of the rules of ethics governing attorney conduct.

“I spoke with Mr. Carey this afternoon from the local jail in Orlando,” Howaniec said Tuesday. “Seth is being treated fairly there by local officials, and he is anxious to get back to Maine and respond to the charges. We look forward to reviewing the police investigation reports.”

Howaniec said he advised Carey not to challenge his extradition and Carey intends to return to Maine as soon a possible to answer the charges.

Howaniec said it was “very unusual to us” that the charges had been brought three years after the allegations were made against Carey. During the interim, nobody had approached Carey about any investigation into possible criminal charges, he said.

Howaniec said he was surprised that police hadn’t contacted him as Carey’s attorney of record to seek Carey’s cooperation.

“All they had to do is pick up the phone and contact us and we would have been more than happy to surrender him here in Maine,” Howaniec said.

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