BANGOR – A former Newport attorney living in Canada is wanted in Maine for stealing hundreds of thousands from his clients in a wrongful death lawsuit.
A warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday.
“Former Maine attorney Dale Thistle has been charged with theft for stealing over $250,000 in a wrongful death settlement that he had negotiated on behalf of his clients,” said Leanne Robbins, assistant attorney general for Maine. “He never turned the money over to his clients, and instead used it for this own purposes.”
She added, “He’s now living in Quebec City and he did not appear today so the court issued an arrest warrant and set bail at $50,000 cash.”
The four children of Gilman Friend of Newport never received notice from Thistle of a settlement in the death of their father in 2010.
“In July 2012, he received a settlement,” Robbins said of Thistle. “It was a civil case that never went to court. So basically he negotiated a settlement with the insurance company, received $390,000 on behalf of the estate of Gilman Friend.”
“He was entitled to take some of that money as a fee, he was entitled to 33 1/3 [percent], not 100 percent,” she said, standing on the steps of the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Thistle’s fee amounted to nearly $130,000. His license to practice law in Maine was taken by the Board of Overseers on May 28, 2014.
“The actual order from the Board of Overseers indicates that he surrendered his license due to disability,” Robbins said. “He did have an auto accident and a head injury and he was apparently not managing the practice as he should.
“Our evidence indicates he was in fact, stealing client funds,” the prosecutor said. “And this is why this is an indictment and why it’s not just enough to take his license. We need to bring a criminal prosecution for theft .”
Robbins said the next step will to be to contact Canadian officials about extraditing Thistle back to Maine.