The widow of a former U.S. Senate candidate from Maine has filed a civil lawsuit alleging his campaign adviser defrauded the couple of more than $225,000 for a fake cryptocurrency venture.

Max Linn’s wife, Hanna Aquino, and Susan Englar, who represents Linn’s estate, filed the complaint Monday in U.S. District Court in Maine against Matthew McDonald of Bar Harbor. The women say that McDonald talked Linn into transferring more than $225,000 to McDonald’s accounts to invest in cryptocurrency, but he never invested the money and denied Linn access to the accounts afterward.

“This caused Linn (and his wife, Hanna Aquino) significant distress, and ultimately contributed to his untimely death,” the complaint states. Aquino and Englar, who both live in Florida, are asking for damages “as the court deems just.”

Obit Max Linn

Max Linn talks to reporters on Jan. 9, 2021, near the Maine State House. Joe Phelan/The Kennebec Journal

Linn died in December 2021, about a year after running as a conservative independent in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Sen. Susan Collins in 2020. Before moving to Bar Harbor in 2018, he was a businessman in Florida, where he ran for Congress and governor. He was an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump and attended Trump’s rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

McDonald also is facing criminal charges over the alleged fraud. He was indicted on one count of theft by deception in April. A clerk for Hancock Superior Court confirmed Tuesday that McDonald’s case is active and his attorney is scheduled to meet with prosecutors for a dispositional conference in November. The Class B charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Severin Beliveau, the attorney who represents Aquino and Englar, said Tuesday that they don’t believe the civil case will have any impact on the criminal case.


Maine’s criminal docket is so backed up that it’s unclear when McDonald’s case could reach trial, he said.

It was important to Aquino and Englar to file something while they still could. He also said it’s possible that admissions McDonald made to police could help the civil case.

“This is unusual, but it’s not unprecedented,” Beliveau said. He said neither client was available to comment on the complaint Tuesday.He said neither client was available to comment on the complaint Tuesday.

McDonald’s criminal defense attorney, Robert Van Horn, did not respond to a voicemail Tuesday seeking to get in touch with McDonald and asking whether Van Horn will represent him in the civil case.

A man who answered a phone number believed to belong to McDonald hung up on a reporter, and a text message about the lawsuit that was sent to the same number was not returned.

McDonald worked on Linn’s campaign for Senate in 2020. The complaint says Linn trusted McDonald and considered him a friend.


Linn’s widow says McDonald convinced him to invest money in cryptocurrency. Linn transferred at least $225,000 to McDonald, divided over multiple occasions, according to the complaint, but it does not specify exactly when the payments were made.

When Linn started asking McDonald for updates, McDonald lied and said it was invested, “even though he knew these statements were untrue,” the complaint alleges.

“He did not invest the money as promised, and he lied about this on multiple occasions,” the complaint states.

Linn asked for full access to his accounts in August 2021. By September, McDonald cut off contact and filed a protection-from-harassment complaint against Linn on Oct. 6, 2021, according to the complaint, alleging it was Linn who talked him into the investment.

The lawsuit says Linn subpoenaed records from the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert police departments, which state McDonald agreed to invest Linn’s money in cryptocurrency and that after a few years, Linn would get his money back. The reports also showed that McDonald liquidated the money and did not return it, according to the lawsuit.

McDonald fought Linn’s efforts to subpoena him, forcing McDonald to provide banking records of how he was using Linn’s money. McDonald asked to dismiss his protection-from-harassment complaint on Dec. 1, 2021, the complaint states.

Linn died 10 days later of an apparent heart attack, according to the complaint, which alleges McDonald’s actions contributed to his death.

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