The second Maine man accused of defrauding a pandemic business loan program is set to plead guilty to federal charges on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Craig Franck, 40, is expected to admit that he used more than $300,000 from two loan programs Congress authorized early in the COVID-19 pandemic for bail on a theft charge in Florida as well as to buy exercise equipment, a telescope, a drone and two trucks, among other expenses.
Franck of Levant, who agreed to be held without bail, is charged with three counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. He is scheduled to plead guilty to all charges.
Fraudulent activity has been widespread nationwide with COVID-19 relief programs authorized by Congress. The U.S. Secret Service late last year estimated that there had been nearly $100 billion in potentially fraudulent COVID-19 relief activity. In Maine, government agencies have had to deal with fraudulent attempts to secure expanded unemployment benefits and applications for emergency rental assistance.
Franck also is expected to admit Tuesday to using the illegally obtained federal funds to pay a holistic doctor in Rockland and a veterinarian in Veazie, according to the complaint outlining the charges that was filed in March.
A plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office is expected to be filed next week.
He allegedly received three loans electronically totaling $321,560 under two separate loan programs authorized by Congress early in the pandemic — the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
The U.S. Small Business Administration handled applications for disaster loans while banks handled applications for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Franck received the funds for two companies, CCF Acoustics LLC — which was formed in 2015 and is still active, according to the Maine secretary of state’s office — and CCF Acoustical Systems, which was founded in 2017 and dissolved the following year. The firms were contracted to do acoustical and ceiling work.
In his applications to the loan programs, Franck lied about how much money the companies made and how many people he employed, according to the complaint.
In August, Franck pleaded guilty in a Florida court to stealing between $20,000 and $100,000 in that state. He was sentenced to seven years of probation, the complaint said.
Franck is the second person in Maine to be charged with fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program loan, but the first to be charged with fraudulently obtaining a disaster loan.
Nathan Reardon, 44, of Skowhegan and Plymouth last month pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud in connection with the $60,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan he received in 2020 by falsifying information about payroll for his business. He is the first person charged in Maine with COVID relief-related fraud.
Franck and Reardon most likely will be sentenced this fall.
After pleading guilty, Franck faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud charges and up to 10 years on the money laundering count. Each charge carries a fine of up to $250,000. Franck is expected to be ordered to pay restitution to the government when he is sentenced.