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Widow of Late LL Bean Chief Says Her Trees Were Poisoned

Lisa Gorman accuses Missouri couple of tainting oaks in Maine for better view at their summer home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2024 6:00 AM CDT
Rich Maine Couple Accused of Poisoning Trees for Better View
Paul Hodgson is seen June 4 in Camden, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Suspicious deaths in an idyllic seaside community and detective work that points to poison sound like themes from a classic murder mystery. But the victims in this Maine whodunnit were trees that stood in the way of a wealthy family's oceanfront view of Camden Harbor, allegedly felled by well-heeled killers who, while ostracized and publicly shamed, remain free. To make matters worse, the herbicide used to allegedly poison the trees leached into a neighboring park and the town's only public seaside beach. The state attorney general is now investigating, per the AP.

  • The players: Amelia Bond, former CEO of the St. Louis Foundation, which oversees charitable funds with more than $500 million in assets, brought the herbicide from Missouri in 2021 and applied it near oak trees on the waterfront property of Lisa Gorman, wife of the late Leon Gorman, LL Bean's president and grandson of LL himself, per a pair of consent agreements with the town and the state pesticide board. Bond's husband, Arthur Bond III, is an architect and the nephew of former US Sen. Kit Bond. Their summer home, owned by a trust, is situated directly behind Gorman's home, farther up the hill.

  • What happened: When the trees and other vegetation began dying, Amelia Bond told Gorman in June 2022 that the tree didn't look good and offered to share the cost of removing them, Gorman's lawyer wrote in a document. Instead, Gorman had the trees tested. Soon, lawyers were involved. More than $1.7 million in fines and settlements later, the trees are now gone, and the harbor view from the Bond's home is improved. But the chemical has leached into a neighboring park and beach, leaving the Bonds potentially on the hook for further monitoring and remediation. Maine's attorney general has agreed to further investigate the incident.
  • The herbicide: Tebuthiuron, which doesn't break down, was also used in 2010 by an angry Alabama football fan to kill the Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University, following a Crimson Tide loss to their archrival. The incident earned jail time for Harvey Updyke, who acknowledged poisoning the trees.
  • Repercussions: The Bonds have so far paid $4,500 to resolve Maine Board of Pesticides Control violations for unauthorized use of an herbicide that was applied inappropriately and not allowed for residential use; $180,000 to resolve violations with the town; and another $30,000 for additional environmental testing, according to documents. They also paid more than $1.5 million to Gorman in a legal settlement, per a memo from the town's planning and development director.
  • Reaction: "Anybody dumb enough to poison trees right next to the ocean should be prosecuted, as far as I'm concerned," said Paul Hodgson, echoing the view of many exasperated residents in Camden.
  • The Bonds: A lawyer for the couple said they have no comment, but that they "continue to take the allegations against them seriously. They continue to cooperate with the town of Camden, state of Maine, and the Gormans, as they have done over the last two years."

More here.

(More Maine stories.)

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