Maine

Hawaiian defense contractor with Maine offices charged with bank fraud

A Hawaiian defense contractor whose business has offices and employees in Maine has been accused of falsifying loan applications to receive $12.8 million in federal funds from a coronavirus relief program.

Martin Kao was arrested Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and money laundering. The news was first reported by Civil Beat, a Hawaii-based investigative news organization.

According to a 37-page criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Kao is suspected of lying on two applications to receive funds under the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, part of the CARES Act passed by Congress in late March to address the pandemic. Maine Sen. Susan Collins was a co-author of the act.

Kao and several of his employees have donated to Collins’ reelection campaign, and the two appeared together in Maine last summer when Collins announced an $8 million federal contract to his company, Navartek LLC, now known as Martin Defense Group.

Investigators believe Kao, when applying for PPP loans, deliberately overstated his company’s need for relief, inflated the number of his employees and used a subsidiary company so that he could apply twice. They also allege Kao transferred $2 million in PPP funds to a personal bank account.

The complaint also indicates that Kao told officials at the banks that were delivering the PPP loans that he works closely with unamed U.S. senators and said some senators or their staff had advised him on the application process.

“[The Senator] is suggesting a conference call with his Banking Committee and SBA staff director . . . SHE HELPED WRITE THE PPP RULES. . . . . ,” he wrote in an email to a bank executive, according to the complaint. “She has confirmed directly that CPB should and is obligated to fund once SBA issues the approval number.

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Small homes made of Maine materials could boost economy, aid climate, council says

The Maine Climate Council has suggested a strategy that draws on the potential for constructing fuel efficient, modestly priced homes with locally sourced wood to help address the state’s affordable housing shortage while boosting the economy.



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Sustainably harvested wood – particularly when transport is minimal – is more sensible when compared with steel and concrete, which have a denser carbon footprint, Stephen Shaler, associate director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, told the Maine Monitor.

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Using locally sourced wood to build homes could expand job opportunities in construction, design and forest products, revitalize former mill towns, help trade school programs and strengthen university research and development, the climate council reported.

While Maine is known for producing traditional hardwood from spruce and pine, engineered wood like laminated strand lumber is a newer industry. Wood fiber insulation manufacturing is on track to begin by 2022. A nanocellulose alternative to sheetrock also is in the early stages of development.

In collaboration with Downeast Maine Community Partners, students recently constructed a “tiny” 560-square-foot house for a Millbridge resident. The project helped explore the feasibility of producing similar structures on a broader scale, the Maine Monitor reported.

Plans are now underway to build affordable zero-energy modular (ZEM) homes, made from local wood products, at the former Great Northern mill site in Millinocket – now the One Katahdin multiuse industrial park.

Consultants with the L3C firm Material Research have signed a memorandum of understanding with Our Katahdin – a nonprofit economic development group – for a ZEM home factory that annually could build up to 500 homes that range from 600 to 1,000 square feet.

Caroline Pryor, co-founder of Material Research, told the Maine Monitor the typical price point for

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Person leaves poop in mailboxes with Trump signs in Maine

Three homes along Constitution Ave. in Hampden reported to police that a person had left what is likely animal poop in their mailboxes.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Thursday, Hampden Deputy Police Chief Scott Webber confirmed the person behind these actions was a female minor.

Webber said two of the three houses were repeated offenses. On the first day, there was poop in their mailboxes. The next day, their Trump signs were vandalized.

A Facebook post on Hampden Public Safety’s page with a picture of the minor has now been deleted. 

ORIGINAL: Hampden residents had poop left in their mailboxes, police say, prompting a call for the public’s assistance to help find a woman who may have information about the incident.

Police say three homes along Constitution Ave. reported that poop, likely from an animal, had been left in their mailboxes. A common trait linking all three homes: Trump campaign signs in the yards.

Officer Monic Christian of the Hampden Police Department tells NEWS CENTER Maine police would like to talk to the person who was seen in the area of Constitution Ave on Sunday and Monday where the incident took place. It is believed she may have information about the incident, which is currently under investigation.

Officer Christian said the incident could result in charges of harassment and trespassing, in addition to possible federal charges for interfering with mail services.

Anyone with information can call police at 207-862-4000.

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