Dawn Cummings Solomon still owes $3.9M to Maine taxpayers

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By Leslie H. Dixon

NORWAY — A former Harrison resident and Norway business owner who was imprisoned for defrauding MaineCare of approximately $4 million in 2010 has paid back less than $6,000 in the past three years and is living in a waterfront apartment in Florida.

Dawn Solomon, 2012
Dawn Solomon, 2012

Dawn Cummings Solomon, 47, whose current address is Cocoa, Fla., was released from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham in October 2012 into “supervised community confinement” after serving only 16 months of a four and one-half year prison sentence for defrauding the MaineCare program of millions of dollars.

To date, she has only paid back $5,915.45, said John Martins, director of internal and program communications for the Maine Department of Health and Human Resources.

Cummings Solomon was charged in 2010 with theft by deception and pleaded guilty in Oxford Superior Court to defrauding the state’s low-income health insurance program of about $4 million. She was sentenced in Oxford County Superior Court to eight years, all but 42 months suspended, plus three years probation.

She is currently serving out the rest of her sentence in “community supervision” under the Florida Department of Corrections in her Cocoa apartment. Both Florida and Maine Department of Corrections records show her earliest release date is March 6, 2017.

Both Department of Corrections records also show she transferred from the Maine Department of Corrections supervised probation to Florida on May 13, 2014.

Although the $4 million was taxpayer money, information about the terms of her repayment schedule remain sealed in her probation records in Portland, said Jodi Breton, deputy commissioner at Maine Department of Corrections. Breton told the Advertiser Democrat she is only able to release the fact that Cummings Solomon must reimburse the state “up to $4 million.” Any other information is protected under MRS Title 34-A, Chapter 1; 1216, which provides for limited disclosure of information of those persons receiving services from the Department of Corrections.

And although she was prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s office, spokesman Tim Feeley said the enforcement of the case is up to the probation department.

“A prosecutor is prohibited from initiating a probation violation action on a case they handled. So, once we resolve a case it would be up to the Dept. of Corrections, Probation to enforce the terms of her sentence,” Feeley said in an email statement.

Feeley said state statute (17-A M.R.S. § 1326-A) directs the Department of Corrections to determine the time and method of restitution payment during a period of probation, unless the sentencing court specifies otherwise. In most cases, when a defendant is on probation, the time and method of restitution payment is subject to the supervision of the Department of Corrections, not the Attorney General’s office, he said.

“If the Department of Corrections feels that a person under their supervision is willfully not abiding by the terms of a restitution order they will take steps to address the matter, including working with the prosecutor to seek the revocation of probation by the court,” Feeley said. “Additional actions could include a review of the defendant’s assets to determine whether or not there is property that could be seized or accounts that could be garnished to fulfill restitution orders.”

Feeley said restitution payments are made in various ways, sometimes directly to MaineCare and sometimes through the Probation Department so the Attorney General’s office does not have a list of what payments have been made.

What little is known about the plan came from Cummings Solomon’s now retired Probation and Parole Officer Wayne Sturdivant. He told the Advertiser Democrat in 2012 that Cummings Solomon must seek and maintain employment and must pay the court-ordered restitution of $4 million through a payment agreement with the state.

While the restitution plan and Cummings Solomon’s adherence to it remain under wraps, the story of the MaineCare deception was very public.

Dawn Cummings Solomon began to publicly surface in Norway in 2008 when she and her then husband, Harvey Solomon, purchased the historic, but vacant Odd Fellows Building on Main Street. Their dream was to turn the deteriorating three-story brick building into a vibrant retail attraction with possibly a top floor restaurant.

While Solomon worked on the development of the building, Dawn Cummings Solomon built her businesses on nearby lower Main Street.

Cummings Solomon operated the Living Independence Network Corp. in Norway that provided behavior management and physical and social development services to children with mental disabilities.

It was here, in the two buildings that Cummings Solomon’s fraudulent billing scheme was being built. And it was here that agents from the FBI, Office of the Maine Attorney General, Maine State Police and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the U.S. Inspector General, Health and Human Services division, executed a search warrant at 172 and 180 Main St., Norway, across the street from Stephens Memorial Hospital in July 2010.

The boxes of documents retrieved and carried out of the buildings by agents showed Cummings Solomon had been over billing the MaineCare system and submitting false reports to the state for reimbursement through LINC, the Living Independence Network Corp.

The Maine Attorney General’s Healthcare Crimes Unit said the billing scheme was caught by a state audit in September 2009. Prosecutors say the fraud dated to 2006 with $87,000 in false billings per month before growing to an average of $134,000 per month in 2008.

By the time of her arrest, she had bilked $4 million in taxpayer money from the state, owned thousands of dollars in real estate taxes to at least three towns, including $46,000 to Norway – where they owned the majority of properties – and amassed a wealth of real estate holdings including the $1 million estate on Long Lake in Harrison that she and her now ex-husband Harvey Solomon claimed as their residence.

Each of the Solomons’ 10 properties were listed under the ownership of either Dawn Solomon, Dawn and Harvey Solomon, Dawn Cummings (her maiden name) or New Horizon’s Capital Investment LLC. The Harrison property is listed under limited liability company name – the Solomons’ real estate holding company.

Harvey Solomon was never indicted on charges. He and Dawn Cummings Solomon divorced and he, from all accounts, returned to Florida. It is unclear whether the two have contact now. The 10 properties owned by the Solomons in Norway, Paris and Harrison went to lender-ordered auctions in 2011. There were no property sales restrictions placed on the sales, but the Attorney General’s office was notified of each sale.

So what has become of her?

Dawn Cummings Solomon, who goes by the professional name of Dawn Demers, advertises herself online as a life coach – a “Change Master.”

For $125 a session, or up to $835 for nine sessions either by telephone or Skype, Cummings Solomon said she will guide her clients “in beautifully positive and empowering ways through life’s most challenging and rewarding rhythms and dynamics.”

Her web advertisement promises that by “Blending practical, emotional, professional and spiritual insights, strategies and actions, Dawn helps you to recreate the vital rhythms and dynamics within yourself and your life.” She will rewrite a clients story to “Live the Life You Imagine.”

She calls herself an “Alchemist of Change.”

And that seems to be true in her own life.

She has changed her surname at least three times, divorced at least two times, changed her hair color from brown to blonde and moved multiple times, according to court documents. She currently is identified by the Florida Department of Corrections as Dawn L. Solomon.

Under the terms of her “supervised community confinement,” in Maine, Cummings Solomon’s  residences must be approved, as well as any out-of-community travel.

Probation Officer Sturdivant told the Advertiser Democrat in 2012 that the “supervised community confinement” program is for nonviolent criminals because it is much cheaper than keeping them in prison. Under the terms of her release, Solomon must check in with her probation officer who makes home visits. She can have only preapproved visitors and she cannot drink alcohol or have illegal drugs. She was also not allowed to leave the state.

Whether those terms changed with the relocation to Florida is unclear.

While the Advertiser Democrat has decided to use the name most commonly associated with her criminal activity – Cummings (an ex-husband’s name) and Solomon (another ex-husband) –  professionally she goes by the name Dawn Lynn Demers (the surname of a man she married in 1993). She changed her name again in 2013 to protect herself from an abusive ex-husband, according to documents filed in York Probate Court in Alfred, where she appeared before Judge Robert Nadeau in May 2013.

Whether she changed her name legally back to Solomon once she moved to Florida is unclear. It is her given name under the Florida Department of Corrections.

As part of the name changing process, in Maine she had to inform any creditor to which she owned more than $1,000.

According to court documents, her official notification included notifying Discover Card Financial Services and to Wells Fargo Dealer Services, where she held an account containing and owed more than $1,000. There is no record available to indicate whether she informed the state Attorney General’s office or the probation office.

While imprisoned for 16 months, Cummings Solomon also declared bankruptcy.

On May 5, 2011, Cummings Solomon, filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy action claiming $1.78 million in secured debts and $63,500 in unsecured debts. She was granted Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief on Aug. 15, 2011.

She also filed for bankruptcy for her real estate holding company, New Horizons Investment LLC. She owed more than $1.8 million in secured and unsecured debts, according to her attorney, Jeffrey P. White of Portland, at the time.

Ironically, bankruptcy lawyers across the country began to pick up on her story to advertise for clients.

“Helping Good people Get a Fresh Start” is the headline Allmand Law in Dallas and Forth Worth, Texas, used in April 2012. They used the Cummings Solomon’s tax debt story to illustrate how the law firm could help. Their advertisement retold the story, apparently disregarding the criminal aspect of it.

“Deputy Tax Collector Shirley Boyce reported that Cummings Solomon and her company New Horizons Capital Investments owe a tax of $46,000 to the town of Norway on the 12 properties that she owned during the tax year 2010-11.” The ad then goes on to detail what was owned before declaring that legal proceedings would be initiated on each property if Cummings Solomon did not pay the taxes before the following September.

As taxpayers across Maine wait for the other $3.94 million to be paid back, some may find it hard to fathom how Dawn Cummings Solomon could be used as an example of how “good people” need “a fresh start.”

But then, Cummings Solomon herself may explain it in her online writings: “This is it. This is me. I do my best and I forget the rest! You should too!”

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net

Editor’s Note: Repeated attempts – via Facebook, her website and telephone – to reach Cummings Solomon were unsuccessful.