Fallout continues for wealthy St. Louis couple accused of poisoning neighbor’s trees (2024)

Dana Rieck

Amelia Bond approached her neighbor Lisa Gorman two years ago and suggested the two split the cost of cutting down several dying oak trees on Gorman’s property, which sits between Bond’s vacation home and the ocean on the coast of Maine.

But Bond didn’t tell her neighbor she had killed the trees herself. The St. Louis resident later admitted to dumping a banned herbicide on the trees to obtain a better view of the Camden Harbor from the $1.8 million vacation home owned by Bond and her husband, Arthur Bond III. Her husband also cut the tops off 15 trees to enhance their ocean view.

Fallout from the incident was wide-reaching — and continues today.

Gorman, the wife of late L.L.Bean President Leon Gorman, filed suit, and the Bonds agreed to settle for $1.58 million last spring. The couple was fined $4,500, then in October agreed to pay an additional $210,000 for environmental violations and the cost of environmental monitoring and sampling.

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And most recently, a few months ago, city officials in Camden voted unanimously to urge local and state prosecutors to investigate the couple and consider charges. The poison had spread to a nearby public beach — the only one in Camden — where people picnic and kids play.

Maine’s attorney general responded April 2, saying his office would work with other agencies to investigate the poisoning. The Knox County district attorney did not respond to city officials’ request for an investigation.

“I question (the Bonds’) sanity to think that they were going to get away with it,” Camden Select Board Chair Thomas Hedstrom told the Post-Dispatch. “That you’re just going to be able to dump poison in the ground and kill a whole bunch of plants and trees. And your neighbor, who is also one of the wealthiest people in Maine, is just going to go, ‘Oh, that’s too bad. Yeah, let’s cut them down.’”

The Bonds are wealthy St. Louis residents, best known for Amelia Bond’s 12-year run as president and CEO of the St. Louis Community Foundation. Her husband is the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond.

Camden, home to just a few thousand residents, is about 80 miles northeast of Portland, the state’s largest city, and sits on the West Penobscot Bay. The Bonds’ home is one of three on a small side street that juts out from Bayview Street — a lush neighborhood full of expensive oceanside homes owned by wealthy people from all over the country, Hedstrom said.

The Bonds bought the vacation home in 2018, according to property records. Online real estate sites now estimate it’s worth more than $2 million.

The couple’s lawyer, Dudley McCarter, said in a statement that the “Bonds have cooperated fully and transparently with all of the parties involved” since the issue was brought to authorities.

“The Bonds sincerely regret their mistake and the unintended consequences it created,” McCarter wrote. “They have expressed remorse for their actions, and have consistently taken steps to address this situation.”

Samples from Gorman’s property tested positive for Tebuthiuron, “a powerful herbicide typically used on prairie lands and not approved for use on residential properties in Maine or elsewhere,” wrote Daniel Nuzzi, Gorman’s lawyer, in his letter to town officials.

“Suffice it to say, Mrs. Gorman was shocked and horrified by the devastation of her trees and landscaping on her property and damage to her soil,” Nuzzi wrote.

Nuzzi said he and Gorman are not commenting further on the incident.

The town’s board, concerned the chemical had spread from Gorman’s property to Laite Memorial Beach, ordered testing on the beach’s soil and water. “Detectable concentrations” of the herbicide were found.

“It’s definitely migrated into our beach and into the water,” Hedstrom said. “This is just egregious. ... They can’t just hide behind their money ”

The attorney general’s office provided the response letter to the Post-Dispatch but said they could not comment on the case. The Knox County district attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

But Audra Caler, town manager in Camden, said officials will continue to push for charges against the couple.

“The Camden Select Board is very motivated to pursue whatever avenue is available to hold the Bond’s criminally liable,” Caler wrote in an email. “The community is absolutely outraged that someone would poison trees with an herbicide (that should never be used in Maine) and that it would then end up on a public park.”

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Fallout continues for wealthy St. Louis couple accused of poisoning neighbor’s trees (2024)

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