Jury finds Vermont man guilty of bilking Brownville out of $300,000 in grant money

Posted April 25, 2014, at 1:45 p.m.
Last modified April 25, 2014, at 5:24 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Vermont man was found guilty Friday of bilking the town of Brownville out of $300,000 in community block grant money to construct a small manufacturing plant and employ at least 10 area residents to make bullets for muzzle-loading guns.

Jurors deliberated for an hour and 10 minutes before finding Craig Sanborn, 64, of Maidstone, Vt., guilty of one count of wire fraud. The decision came on the fifth day of his trial before U.S. District Judge John Woodcock.

A sentencing date has not been set.

Sanborn is serving a 10- to 20-year sentence in a New Hampshire prison in connection with a 2010 explosion at his New Hampshire gunpowder plant that killed two men and injured a third. The jury was not told about that incident.

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Woodcock ordered that he be returned to prison in New Hampshire while awaiting sentencing on the conviction in Maine.

He had pleaded not guilty to wire fraud in connection with the $300,000 grant he received between late 2005 and early 2008 from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to renovate the former rail terminal, purchase equipment and get the bullet-making plant up and running.

Sanborn did not react as the verdict was announced.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, who prosecuted the case, said after the verdict was announced.

“This has been an enormously painful several months for the Sanborn family,” defense attorney Leonard Sharon of Auburn said in an email late Friday afternoon. “The defense had hoped that we had raised a legitimate doubt as to whether Craig knew his actions were illegal. Therefore, we were very much surprised by the rapidity of the deliberations. However, Mr. Sanborn and his family were extremely grateful to Chief Judge Woodcock for providing Mr. Sanborn with a fair opportunity to present his case to the empaneled jury.”

To find Sanborn guilty, the jury had to find that all of the following happened:

— A scheme to defraud Brownville existed.

— The scheme involved concealing facts or making false statements.

— Sanborn knowingly and willingly engaged in the scheme to defraud Brownville.

— The scheme was perpetrated over communication wires when fake invoices were faxed to the Brownville town office.

The Department of Economic and Community Development funds come to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Brownville applied for the grant in August 2005 and it was approved the same year, according to court documents. Sanborn had until the end of 2007 to apply for reimbursement for money he spent on the project.

Sanborn is appealing his New Hampshire conviction. Sanborn faces up to 20 years in prison along with a fine as high as $250,000, and he could be ordered to pay restitution.

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