PORTLAND, Maine — A former Portland developer accused of duping investors in a company he founded is facing federal wire and securities fraud charges, officials said Wednesday.
The criminal charges against Michael Liberty, 58, who now lives in Windermere, Florida, and Paul Hess, 63, of Braintree, Massachusetts, are laid out in indictments filed in U.S. District Court in Maine, federal prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the men tricked investors into putting millions into a technology startup, mobile wallet company Mozido, while diverting substantial money for their own use.
A previous civil action by the Securities and Exchange Commission said proceeds funded a "lavish lifestyle." Both men now face criminal wire and securities fraud charges, and Liberty is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
An attorney for Liberty called the federal criminal prosecution an "unnecessary overreach."
Liberty "adamantly denies the criminal charges brought against him today in the District of Maine and looks forward to being exonerated of these allegations," said his attorney, Thimi Mina.
Hess' attorney didn't return messages left by the Associated Press.
Liberty is remembered in Portland for big real estate developments including twin office towers at 100 Middle Street and Chandler's Wharf waterfront condominiums.