A former Maine developer who now lives in Florida has been given another week before he has to report to serve a federal prison sentence for violating campaign finance laws.

Michael Liberty was to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons in Atlanta on Sept. 8 to serve a four-month sentence, but with Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida last week, federal District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby gave him a weeklong delay so he could make sure his home and family in Windemere, Florida, were safe.

Now, his lawyers have gotten him another week of freedom, saying a few trees had blown over near his house. They also speculated it might be difficult for him to travel from his home to Atlanta as the area recovers from the hurricane.

The motion from Liberty’s lawyers, filed this week in Portland, includes a couple of pictures of trees knocked over, apparently in Liberty’s yard. One picture depicts bricks on a patio, with about a dozen apparently knocked out of place, and a few small branches draped with Spanish moss lying nearby.

The lawyers cited flooding in the state, wind damage, power lines down and “fatalities and more disastrous consequences throughout the state of Florida,” although the motion for a delay doesn’t say whether any of those impacts affected Liberty. Parts of Liberty’s neighborhood lost power, the motion said, although it doesn’t say explicitly if the electricity was knocked out at Liberty’s house.

The motion says that transportation out of Florida was affected by the storm, including flights to Atlanta, and Liberty’s wife, 15-year-old son and infant son live in Florida and “depend on Mr. Liberty for his support.”


“Mr. Liberty’s family is in dire need of his help during this difficult time,” the motion said. “Although Mr. Liberty recognizes and appreciates that he and his family were more fortunate than other Floridians in terms of weathering the storm, addressing the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to his property while simultaneously caring for two children – one of which is an infant – is no minor task.”

Government lawyers objected to the delay, saying that airports in Orlando and Atlanta are both open and reporting delays of less than 15 minutes. They also said that the highways between Orlando, which is near Windemere, and Atlanta have reopened and pointed out that the trip by car, according to Mapquest, would take about 61/2 hours.

Liberty could also take a bus or train, the government lawyers suggested.

Hornby this week granted the second weeklong delay to Liberty, saying he now must report on Friday, Sept. 22. He agreed with government lawyers that Liberty could probably get to Atlanta safely, but said a delay of less than a week is “problematic” because the Bureau of Prisoners prefers that prisoners report on Fridays to serve their prison terms.

“There will be no further extensions,” Hornby wrote in the order, and underlined that sentence.

Liberty was sentenced in August to four months in jail for violating campaign finance laws by recruiting nine family members and employees to donate $2,500 each to a presidential primary campaign in 2012 and then reimbursing the nine for the contributions to get around the individual limit on political donations. The presidential campaign involved has not been named, although Liberty himself donated to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012.

In 2010, Liberty struck a deal with the SEC to settle allegations that he mismanaged an investment fund, and agreed to return nearly $6 million in what the SEC said were improper profits, plus interest. The penalty was cut to $600,000 when Liberty filed documents claiming that he had a net worth of negative $29 million. Regulators say he lied about his net worth, and the SEC sought to have the full penalty restored.

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

[email protected]

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