March 31, 2013

Would-be Hallowell store owner to explain how he'll pay $150K settlement

Thomas Hibbert, of Randolph, planned to reopen Boynton's Market until financial woes, past trouble came to light

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A Randolph man whose plans to reopen Boynton's Market in Hallowell in 2011 were derailed after details of financial woes came to light now has to tell a judge how he will pay a $150,000 civil judgment against him.

click image to enlarge

Thomas Hibbert stands outside the former Boynton’s Market in Hallowell in June 2011. Hibbert, whose plans to reopen the market under a new name fell apart after the Kennebec Journal reported he pleaded guilty in January 2010 to felony theft for allegedly stealing $74,000 of his mother's money and that he had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005, now faces a disclosure hearing on how he'll pay a $150,000 civil settlement in a 2011 case.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

Thomas Hibbert and his wife, Colleen Hibbert, have been subpoenaed to an April 4 disclosure hearing in Augusta District Court, according to court records.

Hibbert agreed in January to pay the money to settle a 2011 civil lawsuit filed against him by Krista L. Johnson in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Johnson, through attorney Thomas A. Cox, had accused Hibbert of stealing thousands of dollars from her over a three-year period while she dealt with alcoholism and mental illness.

"My suit against him was for a great deal more money, but to spare my client the emotional distress of a court trial, we settled for a judgment amount of $150,000," Cox said in an email.

The stipulated judgment, signed by both attorneys and Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler, says it is "for money, property, services or an extension, renewal or refinancing of credit, to the extent obtained by false pretenses, a false representation or actual fraud," as well as for fraud, embezzlement or larceny.

However, Hibbert's attorney, Stephen Bither, said the judgment is "a settlement of a disputed claim, and he does not admit liability."

Bither also noted Hibbert's wife was not named in the civil lawsuit, but declined further comment except to say that he hoped to get the disclosure hearing postponed since he has another case already scheduled at that same time.

The subpoena issued to Hibbert orders him to bring all income, tax and checking account records and other financial statements for the past few years.

In early July 2011, Hibbert gained notoriety after contacting the Kennebec Journal seeking coverage for his imminent opening of the business that had been Boynton's Market, a landmark grocer that had operated on Water Street since 1936.

However, Hibbert quickly abandoned plans to open his "Hallowell General Store" after the Kennebec Journal reported that he had pleaded guilty in January 2010 to a felony theft charge in Lincoln County Superior Court for allegedly stealing $74,000 of his mother's money and that he had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005.

The criminal case was continued for sentencing, and Hibbert was placed on deferred disposition, which would enable him to withdraw that plea if he met certain conditions, including paying $30,000 in restitution.

Hibbert successfully completed those requirements and retracted the guilty plea on Feb. 27, 2012. Court records show the charge was dismissed that day.

Records in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine show that among the debts listed was $50,000 listed as "a potential claim for a failed business venture," as well as tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, medical and pharmacy bills.

The bankruptcy case was discharged in 2006.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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