A Texas man entered into a plea deal with prosecutors Friday after he was accused of convincing six Mainers to invest roughly $323,000 in what the state alleged was a “sham” drug-testing business.

Nelson “Parker” Cowand, 54, entered an Alford plea Friday to charges of securities fraud and theft in Cumberland County Superior Court, according to his criminal file.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to find them guilty. Cowand’s defense attorney Timothy Zerillo said Friday that Cowand maintains his innocence.

Cowand agreed to serve an eight-month jail sentence and pay $253,000 in restitution to his victims. As part of the plea, he will not technically be convicted until January 2027, his attorney said. He has 36 months to pay at least $195,000 of the full restitution, starting with $50,000 by May 1, 2024. He is scheduled to be booked at the Cumberland County Jail on Jan. 6, 2026.

If he fulfills the terms of the deal, prosecutors have agreed to drop the felony-level securities fraud charge and Cowand will only be convicted of the misdemeanor theft by deception charge.

Cowand launched his business, IntellRx, in 2013 with three partners while he was living in Maine, according to court records.


According to prosecutors, the partners resigned shortly after they found their first investor and Cowand demanded the company use some of that money to pay his salary. Cowand had originally told investors that neither he nor the other partners would be paid a salary or compensated until there was enough money for it, prosecutors said.

In 2014, Cowand told investors he had secured a lab at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. He promised investors the lab was almost fully certified, but in reality it “was just a small empty office space” that he eventually stopped paying for, court documents state.

Cowand moved to Texas shortly after launching the business because of “financial difficulties,” prosecutors said. His house was foreclosed on in 2014. But he never disclosed that to his investors, who thought it was good news when Cowand announced they were “relocating” the lab to Denton, Texas, prosecutors wrote.

There, a similar pattern of events unfurled. Prosecutors said the Texas State Securities Board investigated the matter in 2017 and it was revealed the lab was incomplete and barely occupied. Zerillo said that as far as he is aware, there are no criminal charges against Cowand in Texas.

Between October 2013 and November 2015, prosecutors said, Cowand brought in six Maine investors, who paid a combined $323,000. Bank records showed Cowand used that money for his own benefit.

“He paid himself unauthorized wages,” Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein wrote. “He made various and sundry retail, dining, entertainment, and grocery purchases. He paid towards an automobile loan payment. He paid for private school tuition for his children. He purchased Dallas Cowboy tickets. He also made numerous cash withdrawals. … In sum, the State’s evidence shows that IntellRx was a sham.”


Zerillo said Friday that Cowand does not agree that all of the purchases were for personal, fraudulent gain and that some were to further the business.

“I don’t think it’s quite as clear as all that,” Zerillo said. “You take clients or prospective clients out to a football game. That’s something that business dealers do all the time.”

Zerillo said the plea agreement was the easiest way his client could avoid steep consequences stemming from allegations he denies. Zerillo said when it became apparent the company was not going to succeed, Cowand was already committed to paying back his investors.

In emails, Cowand promised his investors things were going well, even as the launch date was continuously put off. He boasted “significant gross company revenues exceeding $2 million per year” in April 2015. In October of that year, he told investors the Maine lab was already performing urine tests.

“Good (no, make that GREAT) things are happening with the lab,” Cowand wrote to one investor in April 2017. “We have worked in extraordinary ways to assure that our lab is the most ethical and compliant lab possible.”

Cowand entered a separate, civil $128,000 settlement agreement with one investor, Timothy Patch, in 2021.

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