A Skowhegan man who was charged in federal court last month after allegedly lying to obtain a $60,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan is preparing to open a taco restaurant on Center Street in Bangor.
Nathan Reardon, 43, of Skowhegan, registered the Taco Shack LLC name with the Maine secretary of state’s office on March 3, about five weeks before he was charged in U.S. District Court in Bangor with bank fraud and attempted wire fraud in a national emergency on April 8.
A week later, on April 15, Reardon filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in U.S. District Court in Maine, listing more than $280,000 in claims from more than 100 creditors. Many of them are owed wages from Reardon’s business ventures, but they also include the federal government and the states of Maine and Florida, which are owed more than $36,000 in taxes, according to Reardon’s 129-page bankruptcy filing.
Reardon, who owns multiple businesses in both Maine and Florida, allegedly lied about his business’ payroll to get a $60,000 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, and attempted to obtain additional federal funds fraudulently, in April and May of 2020.
Reardon allegedly used the PPP money to pay his lawyer and a local veterinarian, make donations to a Florida church and shop online. His purchases included a men’s 14-carat yellow gold wedding band, clothing, shaving products, toys, an LED barber pole light and a pair of caiman skin cowboy boots, a federal agent’s court affidavit said. Reardon also allegedly withdrew more than $10,000 of the loan in cash.
In addition, he tried to get an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration using the same false information about his business expenses, according to the affidavit filed in federal court in April.
The Taco Shack, located at 95 Center St., the former location of restaurants including Jamaican Vybz and Big Fred’s Roast Beef, would be Reardon’s second taco restaurant in the Bangor area. His first, located at 2213 Western Ave. in Newburgh, also called the Taco Shack, opened in March of this year, according to its Facebook page. The Newburgh restaurant is adjacent to a convenience store, Liberty Square Convenience and Grocery, that is also owned by Reardon.
Reardon also owns a business called Choice Auto Sales, located at 54 Perry Road in Bangor. Reardon used the Perry Road address to register the Taco Shack and Liberty Square names with the Maine secretary of state’s office. Reardon attempted to obtain a PPP loan for Choice Auto Sales, but was unsuccessful. In applying for federal aid, according to court documents, he falsely stated that the business, which had no recent revenues, had employees.
Reardon did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. Reardon’s lawyer in his criminal case, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, said Monday he is unfamiliar with his client’s business ventures. His bankruptcy lawyer, J. Scott Logan of Portland, confirmed that Reardon registered his Taco Shack business with the state on March 3.
The city of Bangor approved a sign permit for 95 Center St. on April 21, allowing the restaurant to install two signs, according to Code Enforcement Director Jeff Wallace. On Monday morning, there were two Taco Shack signs and a newly installed takeout window at the property.
Reardon made his first court appearance on the bank fraud and attempted wire fraud charges on April 15, when he was released on bail. He is the first Mainer charged with illegally obtaining a loan intended to help businesses pay employees and other expenses during the early days of the pandemic. He declared bankruptcy the same day as his court appearance.
Reardon had twice filed for bankruptcy before in Florida and was convicted in Maine for theft by misapplication of property, failing to collect taxes and failing to pay taxes or file tax returns. All were misdemeanors.
If convicted in federal court, Reardon faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. He also could be ordered to repay the amount of the loans, including the money he received mistakenly.
Earlier this year, Bangor resident Changsu Kristopher Lee and his daughter, Alexa Farron, planned to open a restaurant, Korean Dad, at the Center Street location where Taco Shack is planned. However, they have since changed locations and plan to open their restaurant in Veazie, according to the Korean Dad Facebook page.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.