A reserve officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been accused of misrepresenting himself to obtain more than $700,000 worth of equipment for his personal use, including a Land Rover SUV, a 44-foot sailboat and a Boston Whaler with two engines.
Joshua Cory Francis, 43, of Falmouth is charged in U.S. District Court in Portland with federal program fraud, wire fraud, impersonating a government employee and theft of government money between 2014 and 2017.
He is scheduled to make his first court appearance July 9 before U.S. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III.
Francis allegedly began misrepresenting himself to make purchases when he worked for Maine Task Force One, which was associated with the Maine Medical Center in Portland. The task force was sponsored by the Portland hospital and received federal funds through the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the state version of FEMA.
The task force is made up of physician assistants and emergency medical technicians, the 28-page complaint said. Its members assisted emergency personnel at events in Maine and northern New England such as air shows and the New Year’s Day Lobster Dip at Old Orchard Beach.
Francis was fired in August 2016 as the hospital’s director of emergency preparedness for allegedly misusing funds, the complaint said. Francis allegedly lied about being fired and said he lost his job due to a restructuring of the organization. He has been employed since 2018 as a reserve officer for FEMA doing disaster relief work, according to the complaint.
In 2014, Francis allegedly posed as an employee of the Department of Homeland Security to buy a new $50,000 Land Rover Defender station wagon from a dealer in Vermont with personal funds. He also falsified documents with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to obtain waivers so the vehicle — imported from the United Kingdom — did not have to be modified to meet American emissions standards, the complaint said. He also registered the SUV and his wife’s car in Maine for at least four years as an undercover law enforcement vehicle to avoid paying more than $3,000 in excise taxes.
Francis in October 2015 allegedly bought a 44-foot sailboat, named Courageous, that was used for training by the U.S. Naval Academy and Naval Officers’ Reserve Training Corps at the University of California, Berkeley, for $50,000 through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office. The agency sells surplus military equipment to police departments. He claimed the sailboat would be used by Homeland Security in Portland, according to the complaint.
He also bought a 27-foot Boston Whaler for $3,500 and two outboard motors, valued at $20,000, the complaint said. While Francis paid for the vessels with his own funds, he allegedly charged the more than $20,000 cost of transporting them to Maine to the Portland hospital where he worked.
Warrants, requested by the U.S. Attorney’s Office — which is prosecuting the case — to seize the boats as evidence have been issued by the judge.
In addition to the vehicles, Francis is accused of buying more than $600,000 in military equipment, from large trunks to modular sleep systems to air-supported tents, intended for law enforcement programs.
Francis also is charged with lying about his marital status and income to obtain more than $9,000 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
If convicted, Francis faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud and theft of government money charges; up to 10 years in prison on the federal program fraud charge; and up to three years in prison on the impersonation charge. In addition, Francis could be fined up to $250,000 on each count.
He also could be ordered to pay restitution.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the case. It is the practice of the office not to discuss prosecutions until they have concluded.
As of noon Wednesday, no attorney had put in an appearance on Francis’ behalf.