Nathan Reardon applied 11 times for federal rental assistance funds for apartments he rented in Dexter, Howland and Solon. Throughout the time he applied for the funds, between November and March, the businessman was barred from doing so as a condition of his release on bail.
The extent of Reardon’s offers for further COVID-19 assistance was revealed in court documents that were released Wednesday as the 44-year-old was arrested on bail violation charges.
Reardon, the head of a sprawling business empire that includes dozens of entities and an operation through which he rents apartments without owning them, will now await trial on the federal fraud charges behind those bail conditions in prison. Court documents show that Reardon persisted in seeking the funds he was prohibited from seeking to the point of threatening to evict the tenants if he did not receive them sooner.
Last year, Reardon became the first Mainer charged with defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program, by allegedly obtaining a $60,000 loan from fraudulent premises. While out on bail, his business activities included an attempt to set up an auto repair and sales business in a part of the Bangor shopping center that city officials have now sealed off because of Reardon.
As he continued to apply for rental assistance for the apartments he oversaw, the Bangor social services agency that disbursed the funds grew concerned last month that some of the units Reardon was renting were unfinished and dangerous, according to a court affidavit by probation officer Gian-Luigi Zucchi.
That same month, Reardon repeatedly demanded in emails that Penquis immediately return thousands of dollars to him and threatened to evict the tenants if he did not receive the money, according to the affidavit.
These emails continued until last Friday, when Reardon wrote: “Trial to come. You will be listed. Thanks for screwing up my business. I will never make this mistake again. All tenants in the state are evicted because of this 3rd defect.
Federal prosecutors used the details of the affidavit to build their case that Reardon actively solicited funds he was prohibited from seeking without his probation officer’s approval.
Reardon’s bail conditions set last April prevented him from applying for pandemic-related financial assistance without probation officer approval. In the affidavit, his probation officer said Reardon never asked for this clearance. Reardon’s attorney argued his client was unaware he was seeking federal COVID-19 funds.
US Magistrate John Nivison agreed with federal prosecutors. “There is no ambiguity. There is no gray area here,” he said.
The pot of money Reardon asked for 11 times came from more than $350 million Maine received through two federal coronavirus relief programs to support low-income renters. The Maine State Housing Authority disburses the money through local agencies such as Bangor-based Penquis.
Landlords must apply for the money to receive it directly, as Reardon did, under Maine State Housing Authority rules.
Reardon applied once each in November and December 2021, twice in January 2022, three times in February and four times in March, according to Zucchi.
The claims filed by Reardon were for units at Howland, Dexter and Solon.
In Howland, a basement apartment visited by the Bangor Daily News had no toilets when tenants moved in last month, and exposed wires remained even after Reardon announced he would fix the property.
In Dexter, a tenant was taken to hospital by ambulance in early March for carbon monoxide poisoning, according to court documents. The local code enforcement officer also found security breaches there and said he may have to condemn the unit.
In Solon, Reardon rented a flat above the former Solon Superette store which he briefly reopened before apparently abandoning the business.
Reardon identified himself as an individual landlord in more than half of the emergency rental assistance applications. Reardon signed the others on behalf of his company Ultimate Property Holdings, which the probation officer said had no authority to do business in Maine.
Ultimate Property Holdings is one of more than 60 companies that Reardon lists in its business portfolio on its website. He has an active business registration in Florida, but none in Maine.
Reardon’s federal trial is scheduled to begin on June 7. He can appeal the decision to revoke his bond.