Federal prosecutors will ask a judge to sentence former Maine developer Michael Liberty to six months – possibly to be served in home confinement – and a fine between $67,500 and $250,000 for illegal political donations.

Liberty is scheduled to be sentenced June 28 in U.S. District Court in Portland for setting up a fraudulent political contribution scheme in 2012 to avoid limits on political donations. He pleaded guilty in November and, in exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to seek the minimum sentence under federal guidelines. For Liberty’s violation, according to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors Monday, that’s six months to a year.

The memo reiterates that prosecutors will stand by that recommendation and also “take no position on how the minimum term may be satisfied,” presumably opening the door for Liberty’s lawyers to seek to have the sentence served outside a jail cell.

The memo also doesn’t recommend how much he should be fined, but spends considerable analysis in determining that a minimum fine should be $67,500 and the maximum should be $250,000. However, the memo says that’s only if the judge decides to levy a fine. The memo points out that is at the judge’s discretion, so he or she could order no fine at all.

Prosecutors say Liberty set up a scheme to have employees, family members and others contribute $2,500 each, for a total of $22,500, in the 2012 presidential primary. Liberty then reimbursed the donors for those contributions, evading federal laws on donation limits.

Documents in the case don’t identify which candidate received the illegal donations, but Liberty reported personal donations of $2,500 in both 2011 and 2012 to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.


When Liberty entered his plea, prosecutors indicated they would seek a fine of $15,000 to $40,000, but in the sentencing memo, they said they have since determined that the law calls for a range of $67,500 to $250,000.

In the sentencing memo, prosecutors say Liberty knew the law barred him from reimbursing others for campaign contributions, but set up a “relatively complex” scheme to do so nonetheless. It also points out his rags-to-riches personal success story, but said his “business activities over the years have been checkered with conflict and litigation, some of which is still ongoing.”

Liberty, a Gray native, is best known in Maine for his development career in Portland in the late 1980s, when his projects included the twin office towers at 100 Middle Street and his Chandler’s Wharf waterfront condominium project. More recently, he relocated to Florida and started Mozido, a Texas-based mobile phone payments company that has a valuation in the billions, but ran into financial trouble last year, with missed payrolls and difficulties in raising more cash from investors.

Liberty also set up a $100 million venture capital fund in Pennsylvania, but was accused of illegally diverting $9 million to himself or associates and lost $18 million in improper investments, according to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2010, he settled the allegations and agreed to pay a fine of $6 million, without admitting guilt.

However, after he reported to a federal court in Philadelphia that his net worth was negative $29 million, the judge in the case cut the fine to $600,000.

Late last fall, SEC officials went back to court and alleged that Liberty lied about his finances, bragged that his Mozido stock was worth $127 million, and spent lavishly, using companies that he set up and a trust fund for his children to pay for items ranging from everyday expenses to luxury hotels, restaurants and cars.


Liberty’s lawyers have said that the financial report filed with the court was correct and that their client has about $2 million in annual living expenses and frequently has to borrow money from friends to cover loan payments and his expenses.

A settlement conference in that matter is scheduled with a federal magistrate in Philadelphia on June 5.

Liberty’s lawyers did not respond to a call and emails seeking comment Monday.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:


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