A Maine man accused of defrauding the government will be held without bail until his case is resolved after he applied for funds from a federal coronavirus relief program, which his bail conditions prohibited.
Nathan Reardon, 44, and currently living in Plymouth, was accused last year in U.S. District Court in Bangor of applying for and receiving a $60,000 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program and attempting to obtain additional federal funds by using fraudulent information.
He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and was granted bail last spring. But he was arrested Wednesday on a motion to revoke his bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison granted the motion later in the day after a 90-minute hearing held over Zoom.
Reardon’s bail conditions set last April prevented him from applying for any pandemic-related financial assistance without the prior approval of his supervising probation officer. However, Reardon allegedly received rental assistance for 11 units for which he serves as landlord in Howland, Dexter and Solon, according to the motion to revoke his bail filed in federal court.
He was arrested Wednesday at the Sears building in Bangor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lizotte said that Reardon could face additional criminal charges based on his applications for and receipt of rental assistance funds.
Reardon’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, argued that his client was not aware that the rental assistance program was funded with pandemic relief money. Tzovarras said that the rental assistance was for his tenants and not for his own benefit.
“It is not plausible how Mr. Reardon did not know he was applying to a program using pandemic relief funds when the forms said it was for COVID-19 rental assistance,” Lizotte said.
Reardon’s application to the program allowed the funds to be paid directly to him, according to Maine State Housing Authority rules.
Nivison agreed with the prosecutor.
“The concern and the danger that continues is the fact that Mr. Reardon applied again for pandemic-related funds that may have deprived others in need of those funds,” the judge said.
Lizotte also argued that Reardon had threatened to evict tenants and that some of his rental units are unsafe. Court documents show that an ambulance took a tenant in the Dexter building to the hospital in early March for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tzovarras denied that the individual became ill because of safety problems in the building.
The defense attorney suggested that Reardon’s bail conditions be amended to prevent him from applying for any government programs at all and release him.
Reardon, against his attorney’s advice, attempted to address the judge after he revoked his bail, “as a human being, a father of five young children, a businessman and a landlord.”
Nivison denied the request.
The rental assistance comes from more than $350 million Maine received through two federal coronavirus relief packages. The Maine State Housing Authority disburses the money through local agencies such as Bangor-based Penquis.
The Maine State Housing Authority and Penquis have declined to comment specifically on Reardon’s situation.
In the case of an apartment in Howland, which lacked a toilet when the tenants moved in last month and has exposed wires, a receipt the BDN reviewed showed Penquis had paid Reardon a $1,750 security deposit and would pay rental assistance to Reardon to cover the tenants’ rent for February, March and April.
Reardon was the first Maine resident charged with illegally obtaining a loan intended to help businesses pay employees and other expenses during the early days of the pandemic.
He allegedly used the money to pay his lawyer and a local veterinarian, make donations to a Florida church and shop online. His purchases included a men’s 14-carat yellow gold wedding band, clothing, shaving products, toys, an LED barber pole light and a pair of caiman skin cowboy boots, a court affidavit said. Caimans are a species related to alligators found in Central and South America.
Reardon also allegedly withdrew more than $10,000 of the loan in cash.
In addition, he tried to get an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration using the same false information about his business expenses, the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint said.
Reardon’s trial is tentatively set to begin June 7 in U.S. District Court in Bangor but it most likely will be rescheduled for late in the year.