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State v. Tucci

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

June 13, 2018



          Lance E. Walker, Justice Maine Superior Court

         Before the Court is Plaintiff State of Maine's ("State") complaint for fraudulent transfer against Defendants Daniel B. Tucci, Sr. ("Tucci"), Beatrix T. Tucci ("Beatrix"), and March 31, LLC. A bench trial was held on February 12 and 13, 2018. For the following reasons, the Court will enter judgment for the State and grant relief as outlined below.

         I. Findings of Fact

         The Court makes the following fact findings based on the record of this case, including evidence received at the bench trial. On January 23, 2009, Defendant Tucci inherited from his father a ¼ interest in the property located at 104 Monument Street, Portland, Maine, valued at approximately $81, 000. Tucci and his family have been longtime residents of the property. On February 24, 2009, Tucci transferred his interest to himself and his wife, Beatrix, as joint tenants. The release deed was recorded in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds at Book 26666, Page 277. While Tucci claims he made this transfer to provide for his family in the event anything happened to him, he also acknowledged at trial that "A lot of things can happen. You get sued by the Attorney General's office, or you get sued by Ms. Mitchell, or whatever." (Tr. 11:88.) There was no consideration for this transfer.

         On September 23, 2009, Tucci formed March 31, LLC. Beatrix and the Tuccis' three children were named members of the LLC; Tucci is not a member. On November 24, 2009, Tucci and Beatrix conveyed their joint ¼ interest in 104 Monument Street to March 31, LLC. The release deed was recorded in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds at Book 27424, Page 68. There was no consideration for this transfer. The Tucci family continues to live at this property.

         On his 2009 tax return, Tucci claimed he paid $6, 000 in "rent" and paid no real estate property taxes. Tucci again claimed to have paid $6, 000 in "rent" in 2010 and paid no property taxes.

         For many years, Tucci has secreted a substantial amount of cash in his bedroom ceiling, some of which was saved over his many years of living with his parents, some of which was the result of a worker's compensation lawsuit, and some of which was the result of a personal injury lawsuit. At trial, Tucci testified that as of January 2010, he had roughly $65, 000 stashed in this location. However, it appears Tucci actually kept as much as $90, 000 there. Throughout this litigation, this money has been referred to as Tucci's "nest egg." Despite this substantial nest egg, because he failed to disclose the existence of this money to the Maine Department of Health & Human Services ("DHHS"), Tucci received MaineCare from 2003 until at least 2012. Following a stroke in 2010, Tucci began to receive Social Security Disability Income ("SSDI"). Tucci also began receiving TANF benefits in late 2010, after falsely claiming he had no income or liquid assets.

         Beginning no later than 2000, Tucci was engaged in business as a sole proprietor doing various handyman and home repair projects. Tucci has been the target of numerous customer complaints. For example, in 2008, Tucci was convicted of Class B theft after charging $10, 000 to a customer's credit card without her permission. In March 2009, another customer obtained a $750 judgment against Tucci for damage done to her home. The customer had to take Tucci to disclosure court in order to execute the judgment. Another customer obtained a $3, 500 judgment against Tucci in 2009; she was also forced to take Tucci to disclosure court and eventually settled for $ 1, 800. This is only a small sampling of the customers who have been harmed by Tucci within the last decade.

         Around 2011, after receiving a number of consumer complaints, the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office, led by AAGs Linda Conti and Carolyn Silsby, began investigating Tucci. In November 2011, AAG Conti issued to Tucci a civil investigative demand ("CID") for documents and testimony. Tucci produced no documents in response to the CID, and during his testimony, Tucci said he was receiving food stamps and SSDI and needed help from his church. He never disclosed the existence of March 31, LLC or his nest egg.

         At a subsequent meeting between Tucci and the AAGs, Tucci produced a copy of a bank statement showing he had $14.06 in a joint account with his wife. Based on Tucci's representations, the AAGs believed him to be judgment-proof but continued to pursue a permanent injunction barring him from conducting business. In February 2012, the State filed a complaint against Tucci alleging he had violated the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA). Throughout discovery, Tucci never disclosed the existence of March 31, LLC. He disclosed the existence of three bank accounts and claimed each contained a balance of $25 or less. At the UTPA trial, one consumer testified that in 2011, Tucci testified in disclosure court to having no assets and no money. Another consumer testified that Tucci had invited a lawsuit, saying, "I got nothing and you will not get anything."

         By judgment dated April 9, 2013, the Superior Court permanently enjoined Tucci from operating a home repair or handyman business. He was ordered to pay $236, 500.50 in restitution for the benefit of the consumers he had harmed. He was also ordered to pay $140, 000 in civil penalties, which were to be suspended as long as Tucci paid $250 per month toward the restitution. To date, Tucci has made no payments toward the judgment.

         Following trial, AAG Conti requested that Tucci fill out a financial disclosure form. Tucci never completed the form. Until March 29, 2016, based on the various representations Tucci made to the AAGs, his tax returns, and testimony of consumers at the UTPA trial, AAGs Conti and Silsby believed Tucci had no significant assets and was a tenant in an apartment at 104 Monument Street. Believing a disclosure proceeding would be futile, the AAGs chose not to disclose Tucci.

         On March 29, 2016, the AG's office received a tip from the adult child of one of Tucci's victims that Tucci may have an ownership interest in 104 Monument Street and that the property was listed for sale for $2.5 million. At that point, AAG Conti asked that a title search be done and discovered for the first time the transfers of 104 Monument Street from Tucci to himself and his wife and then to March 31, LLC.

         The State served Defendants with a summons and complaint for fraudulent transfer on April 8, 2016. The State thereafter filed the complaint and returns of service with this Court on April 19, 2016. During the litigation of this case, the State subpoenaed records from four different financial institutions where Tucci had accounts and learned that he had misrepresented the amounts in some of his bank accounts during the UTPA litigation. The State submitted expert evidence that Tucci's ¼ interest in 104 Monument Street was worth $81, 000 in 2009.

         II. Concl ...

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