The Maine man accused of fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program loan has three lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court in Bangor, the same place where he pleaded not guilty to charges in May.
Acting as his own lawyer, Nathan Reardon has sued the U.S government for an alleged violation of his Second Amendment rights, the parent company of News Center Maine for defamation and slander and Lowe’s Home Improvement for an injury he claims he suffered two years ago while checking out.
Reardon, 43, of Skowhegan and Plymouth is charged with five federal counts of bank fraud, three counts of attempted wire fraud, two counts of making false statements to a bank and one count of perjury.
He obtained a $60,000 PPP loan, intended to help businesses pay employees and other expenses during the early days of the pandemic, in 2020, according to court documents. He allegedly then used the money to buy a men’s 14-karat yellow gold wedding band, clothing, shaving products, toys, an LED barber pole light and a pair of caiman skin cowboy boots. Caimans are a species related to alligators found in Central and South America.
After the charges became public, Reardon closed his Taco Shack restaurant in Newburgh and abandoned plans to open a location in Bangor.
Reardon remains free on $5,000 bail. Initially, conditions didn’t include a provision that he not possess guns. That changed Sept. 30 when U.S. District Judge Lance Walker learned Reardon was involved in a road rage incident in 2005 where he aimed a loaded firearm at the driver of another vehicle and reversed the previous decision.
Reardon describes himself in the complaint as “a father of five, inventor, entrepreneur and a disciplined martial artist who has owned firearms legally since he was 18 years of age.” Reardon also claimed that there had been “no issues of concerns about safety and the misuse of firearms in his lifetime.”
In his lawsuit, Reardon says that condition violates his Second Amendment right to bear arms and also violated his right to due process. He is seeking the return of his six firearms.
The Maine U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the case.
Reardon also has sued TEGNA Inc., the owner of Channel 2 in Bangor and Channel 6 in Portland, over a broadcast and social media posts reporting that he was facing federal charges. He alleges that the headline “Man from Skowhegan abuses PPP program for personal gain” was not factual and reported with the “willful and flagrant intention to disparage [Reardon’s] name and business reputation.”
As a result of the broadcast, Reardon claimed he was forced to close the Newburgh Taco Shack, amounting to $15,000 in losses per month. He also alleged in that complaint that he had to abandon plans to open a Taco Shack on Center Street in Bangor after “friends, family and support staff alienated themselves from [him].”
Reardon is seeking $7 million in damages from TEGNA.
The station’s attorney, Bernard Kubetz of Bangor, who also represents the Bangor Daily News, said Tuesday that Channel 2 would prevail in the lawsuit.
“News Center Maine is confident that the story it broadcast accurately reflected court documents involving Mr. Reardon,” he said. “We are confident that News Center will not be found responsible for any of the allegations and claims for damages lodged by Mr. Reardon.”
The third lawsuit, claims that a clerk at the Lowe’s in Brewer “fumbled” a 4-by-4 fence post as Reardon was checking out on Dec. 29, 2019. As it was falling toward his head, Reardon allegedly tried to grab it and injured his thumb and a tendon. The injury required surgery and Reardon claims that he can’t use his hand for the martial arts as he did before the injury.
He is seeking $1 million in damages from Lowe’s, headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Lowe’s corporate office did not return an email request for comment Tuesday.
Reardon did not immediately return a request for comment about the lawsuits Tuesday.
The criminal charges against Reardon were filed in April. The complaint alleged that in applying for the PPP loan, Reardon lied about the business’ monthly payroll and expenses. When the loan was approved and the money was transferred to his account on April 22, 2020, it had a negative balance of more than $4,000, according to court documents.
Eight days later Reardon allegedly illegally applied for a second PPP loan using the same false information. The bank denied that application but mistakenly released another $59,145 to Reardon’s account on May 4, 2020, the affidavit said. Two days later, TD Bank identified the error and placed a freeze on the remaining $28,000 in the account.
Reardon’s jury trial in federal court in Bangor has been tentatively scheduled for Feb. 7.
If convicted of those criminal charges, Reardon faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million. He also could be ordered to repay the amount of the loans, including the money he received mistakenly.
Additionally, Reardon is facing a state charge.
He has been charged with Class B theft in Somerset County for allegedly not paying 17 people and two firms between Aug. 14, 2020, and Feb. 27, 2021, according to Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney,
He allegedly owes more than $22,000 to plumbers, carpenters, electricians, construction workers and laborers for renovation work on a commercial property.
Reardon pleaded not guilty to that charge last month.
If convicted in state court, Reardon faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. He also could be ordered to pay restitution.