BANGOR, Maine — A Levant man pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges in the U.S. District Court in Bangor on Tuesday in connection to receiving more than $300,000 in fraudulent pandemic relief loans.
Court documents revealed Craig Franck, 40, is facing three counts of wire fraud charges and one count of money laundering. He is accused of falsely stating in pandemic relief applications that he owned CCF Acoustics, LLC and CCF Acoustical Systems. Franck formerly owned both companies, but neither were in business in 2020 or 2021.
Franck submitted two fraudulent loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration in the summer of 2020 for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). In the applications, he claimed the funds would be used to alleviate economic injury caused by the pandemic. He received $177,400 in funds from those applications.
In the applications, Franck also claimed he was not subject to criminal charges when, around that time, he had been arrested on felony fraud charges in Florida. He then illegally used the funds he received from the EIDL loans to hire a criminal defense attorney and post bail in that case.
Franck also used some of the funds he received to buy a new pickup truck and other personal expenses.
In March of 2021, he received additional Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) funds after submitting a fraudulent application for a loan to a private lender, presenting false IRS forms and checking account statements. Franck used the $145,060 he received from that PPP loan to buy another pickup truck, and additional personal items.
Andrew Lizotte, assistant U.S. attorney, is the prosecutor in this case.
"This, and other cases like it, are very important cases," Lizotte said. "They arise from the pandemic, they're extremely cynical, and they're opportunistic. And what we want people to know is we're continuing to investigate these and that anyone who has violated federal law to get pandemic funds we continue to look at this."
Lizotte adds that Congress recently extended the statute of limitations for these misuse of federal funds cases from six years to 10 years. He says this gives federal investigators more time to look into pandemic fraud.
Franck faces up to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Lizotte says Franck's sentencing is expected to happen in a couple months. A presentence investigation report must first be filed before the judge, Lance Walker, makes his final ruling.
Franck is now the second man from Maine to be charged for taking advantage of pandemic relief fund programs. Nathan Reardon, of Skowhegan, faces up to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to taking PPP money he was not eligible for.