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A wealthy couple is accused of killing trees to get the ultimate ocean view. Now they pay for it

A well-connected couple in Maine who allegedly poisoned trees blocking views of the ocean has drawn the ire of their small community and even led to an investigation by the state attorney general.

Amelia Bond, former CEO of the St. Louis Foundation, which oversees charitable trusts with more than $500 million in assets, is accused of applying herbicides without permission to oak trees for her waterfront neighbor’s estate in 2021.

According to legal documents, when the trees and surrounding vegetation began dying in June 2022, Bond offered to help share the cost of removing them from the home, The Associated Press reported.

The neighbor, Lisa Gorman – wife of the late Leon Gorman, former president of US retail giant LL Bean – had the trees tested, after which the chemical was discovered, according to the outlet.

In addition to destroying the trees on Gorman’s property, the herbicide, Tebuthiuron, later leached into a neighboring park and the city’s only public beach, prompting a legal investigation.

Trees in front of Lisa Gorman's waterfront home (foreground) were poisoned by her neighbor Amelia Bond so that the ocean view from her property (rear) could be cleared
Trees in front of Lisa Gorman’s waterfront home (foreground) were poisoned by her neighbor Amelia Bond so that the ocean view from her property (rear) could be cleared (AP)

Bond and her husband Arthur Bond III, an architect and cousin of former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, have since been forced to pay thousands of dollars to the state and $1.5 million to Gorman, the city’s planning and development director said.

The trees were eventually cut down, leaving the Bonds with a view of Camden Harbor from their home, which is just behind Gorman’s.

However, angry locals in Camden – a community of just 5,000 – have called for further action, including prosecuting Bond for her actions. “Anyone stupid enough to poison trees right next to the ocean should be prosecuted as far as I’m concerned,” said Paul Hodgson, a resident.

The couple may also be involved in further monitoring and repairs of the damage to the park and beach. Maine’s attorney general – Aaron Frey – has agreed to investigate the incident further.

Representative Vicki Doudera has suggested there be a sliding scale for fines that could be imposed by the Maine Board of Pesticide Control Board. The maximum is currently $4,500, which is what the Gormans paid.

Residents of the quiet town of Camden, Maine, are outraged by Bond's actions
Residents of the quiet town of Camden, Maine, are outraged by Bond’s actions (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“It makes me so angry,” Doudera told AP. “From the moment I heard about it, I thought, ‘Wow! These people are going to get a slap on the wrist.” That’s just not right.”

This was said by a lawyer for the Bonds AP that they have no comment, but they “continue to take the allegations against them seriously.

“They continue to work with the City of Camden, the State of Maine and the Gormans as they have done for the past two years,” a statement said.

Tebuthiuron is the same herbicide used by an angry Alabama football fan to kill a rival university’s oak trees in 2010 after a sports defeat. The incident earned Harvey Updyke jail time, who admitted poisoning the trees.

The chemical contaminates the soil and does not break down, causing the plants to continue to die. The only solution, short of removing the soil, is to dilute and wait until the substance has thinned out enough to be safe for plants – a process that can take up to two years.

Camden resident Paul Hodgson says Bond deserves to be prosecuted for her actions
Camden resident Paul Hodgson says Bond deserves to be prosecuted for her actions (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Camden resident Dwight Johnson described as “underhanded” the way Bond pretended to be a good neighbor by offering to share the cost of removing trees she had poisoned.

Lynn Harrington, another resident of the city, wondered if the Bonds could show their faces in the city, where they are members of the Camden Yacht Club.

However, most acknowledged that wealthy part-time residents who visit the city in the summer months have enough money to do as they please.

“They just pay the fine because they have enough money,” Hodgson said. “That’s the city we live in.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.