Man gets 11 months for theft in loan scheme

Posted Oct. 14, 2011, at 5:11 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 14, 2011, at 6:03 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Donald R. Shields, 66, of Augusta and Boothbay Harbor was sentenced Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court to two years in prison with all but 11 months suspended for a fraudulent loan scheme.

The sentence was announced Friday in a joint press release from the Maine Office of Securities and the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

In addition to prison time, Shields was sentenced to a year of probation on the Class C theft charge.

The scheme targeted distressed businesses unable to obtain conventional financing between April 2004 and January 2009, Assistant Attorney General Michael Colleran, who prosecuted the case, said in a telephone interview Friday. Shields solicited payments from businesspeople who were seeking commercial loans after falsely claiming that he had the intent and ability to secure the loans.

“Donald Shields conned savvy businesspeople into believing he had connections with investors and the ability to obtain commercial loans for their businesses when conventional financing appeared to be unavailable,”Judith M. Shaw, administrator of the Maine Office of Securities, said in the press release. “Businesses and individuals should be suspicious of any individual who promises to obtain a loan or line of credit in exchange for an upfront fee.”

Shields pleaded guilty to the charge in June 2010, but sentencing was postponed so he could pay $10,200 in restitution, Colleran said.

Restitution has been paid to the four victims and Shields began serving his prison term Tuesday, he said.

Shields has previous convictions, according to the press release. One is a conviction in state court for aggravated forgery. Details about that crime were not available Friday.

Shields also was convicted in 1999 in U.S. District Court in Portland of mail fraud connected to frauds and swindles and structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

He also was ordered to pay $157,375 in restitution. Information on whether Shields has paid restitution in that case was not available Friday.

After his release, Shields was sent back to prison for eight months for violating his supervised release. The specifics of that violation were not available Friday.

Shaw urged anyone being asked to pay an upfront fee for a commercial loan to contact the Office of Securities for assistance.

“Individuals offering advice on securing a commercial loan are not required to be licensed,” she said in the press release, “but our office can provide information to help businesspeople and investors spot potential scams.”

To check an adviser, salesman or for information related to investing, go to www.investors.maine.gov, call 877-624-8551 or write to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 State House Station, Augusta 04333-0121.

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