Sunday, December 8, 2013
PORTLAND - A Kittery businessman faces prison time for knowingly making false statements about his criminal record in a $1.3 million loan application to the Small Business Administration.
Peter Enzinger, 44, was convicted Monday in U.S. District Court. The offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but his lawyer said the federal sentencing guidelines that apply to his client call for a sentence of up to two years.
No date was set for sentencing.
In March 2009, Enzinger applied for the loan on behalf of his businesses, Kittery-based Atlantic Medical Supplies and Seacoast Sleep Solutions, to buy property and expand.
In his loan application, Enzinger indicated he had never been charged with, arrested for or convicted of any criminal offenses other than minor motor vehicle violations. But Enzinger had four criminal convictions in Massachusetts under the surname Shays, which he did not include on the SBA form as required. A criminal record does not necessarily disqualify an applicant.
Enzinger, who took his wife's name when they married in 1997, was convicted of shoplifting and being a disorderly person in 1985, furnishing liquor to a minor in 1987 and disturbing the peace in 1990.
Toby Dilworth, Enzinger's lawyer, described Enzinger as a 10th-grade dropout who did stupid things in his youth, including getting into a fight at a rock concert and taking two lamps from the store where his then-girlfriend worked. In both cases, Dilworth said, Enzinger was fined, served no time and had no lawyer or anyone else to explain he had been convicted of a crime. Enzinger referred to the summonses in court Monday as tickets.
During his hour on the witness stand, Enzinger testified about his understanding of what constitutes a conviction.
"Going to a courtroom like this -- having lawyers, a jury, a judge. Having a jury tell you you're guilty and being taken away to prison," he said.
Enzinger testified that he had no memory of the other two convictions. The disturbing-the-peace charge stemmed from a fight with his brother in their Worcester apartment, which Enzinger said took place during a time when he and his brother drank heavily every day.
Prosecution witness Charles Brace, a Worcester officer who responded in 1990, said that police procedure called for the suspect to be handcuffed, transported to the police station, frisked and put in a holding cell. Neither side provided details about a Dudley District Court conviction in 1987 for furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Since those convictions, Enzinger earned his high school equivalency diploma and a degree in respiratory therapy. In 2002, after he and his wife settled in Maine, Enzinger applied for a respiratory therapist license.
Dilworth said Enzinger did not disclose any criminal record on the SBA application because he didn't believe he had one. He said he also paid $8 for a criminal background check, and provided his Social Security number, addresses and his previous surname of Shays. No one ever called back to say he had failed to disclose a criminal record, he said.
Dilworth said Enzinger applied for the SBA loan during an extremely busy time -- he and his wife were each working 80 or more hours each week, and they had young twins at home. Enzinger testified that he authorized others to sign papers for him and that he often signed forms without reviewing them.
Enzinger said he believes he delegated the preparation of the loan forms to a staff member. The filled-in boxes on the criminal history questions on the application were unlike the X's he would have used to indicate his answers, and two sets of dates on the form were incorrect, he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Joyce argued that a $1.3 million loan application would be too important to delegate and treat as just another routine form requiring a hasty signature.
Joyce also challenged the notion that someone who had been in court four times could fail to understand what a crime was.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org