Rockland man reaches plea agreement in theft, fraud

By Christopher Williams,Sun Journal
Posted July 02, 2011, at 5:24 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — A former Twin Cities developer is expected to plead guilty in federal court later this month to charges related to fraud and theft involving federal loan applications aimed at rehabbing and repairing local apartment buildings.

Travis Soule, 47, of Rockland entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland last month, waiving his right to a speedy trial in the process.

An extension of time was ordered by the court earlier to give the two sides time to discuss a plea negotiation, according to court papers filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland. A court hearing is expected to be held July 13, court papers said. At that time, Soule could plead guilty to charges detailed in the complaint, charges not found in the complaint but agreed upon with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or he could plead not guilty and go to trial.

Soule faces two charges in a federal complaint, including making fraudulent claims for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money and stealing money from HUD, through its HOME Investment Partnership Program.

If convicted, Soule would face up to 15 years in federal prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

The charges stem from $180,000 worth of transactions between June 2007 and May 2008 for rehabilitation projects at three Pine Street properties.

According to the federal complaint, Soule solicited estimates from contractors for rehabilitation of those properties and then filed the estimates with applications to the city of Lewiston for loans under HUD’s HOME program, which is aimed at improving availability of affordable housing for low-income families.

Soule allegedly schemed to get the money without having the work done.

The federal complaint also alleged that Soule embezzled money from the HOME program by converting checks and vouchers for his own use or the use of another, including depositing some of the checks into his personal checking account.

Soule was arrested but was freed on $5,000 unsecured bond bail.

He was required to surrender his passport to U.S. District Court officials and was ordered to have no contact with any person involved in the investigation into his case or the prosecution against him.

Soule was a prominent developer in the Twin Cities, including partnering with Lewiston to redevelop the former Libbey Mill into a multimillion-dollar project.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2011/07/02/news/court/rockland-man-reaches-plea-agreement-in-theft-fraud/ printed on September 17, 2014