Aurora Man Convicted of Defrauding Non-Profit of More Than $880,000 Intended to Address Cleveland Food Desert
A Lewis Center man was charged with stealing more than $183,000 in federal grants designed to help Native Americans, said Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
A three-count criminal information charges Craig McGuire, 47, with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and two counts of theft of government funds.
“This defendant blatantly lied on grant applications to get money designated to help one of our most vulnerable populations,” Sierleja said. “He used the money to enrich himself nearly as fast as he got it.”
“The intentional falsification of information in a federal grant application in order to receive funds is a serious crime,” Pugh said. “Federal grant funds are limited and must be used for the purpose for which they are intended. The OIG will continue to identify, investigate and seek the prosecution of those individuals who improperly enrich themselves with vital taxpayer dollars.”
McGuire operated McGuire & Associates LLC, a company that wrote grant applications and provided evaluation services. A person identified only as R.R. served as executive director of the American Indian Education Center, a Parma-based nonprofit established in 1995 to support Native American causes in Northeast Ohio, according to the information.
McGuire & Associates entered into an agreement with R.R. in April 2011 to draft grant proposals on behalf of the AIEC. Later that year, McGuire submitted an application on behalf of the AIEC to receive a Circle of Care grant, offered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant was designed to provide Native American communities with the tools and resources to design programs to support mental health and wellness for children and families, according to the information.
The AIEC’s application contained numerous false statements including: misrepresenting the date the AIEC was established; falsely claiming the AIEC had a wellness department and a “Positive Paths” afterschool program when no such department or program existed; fraudulently listing people the AIEC allegedly employed and mischaracterizing the description of the AIEC’s building and alleged physical amenities, according to the information.
SAMHSA awarded the AIEC a Circle of Care grant on Sept. 1, 2012 of approximately $302,340 for FY 2012. On June 26, 2012, SAMHSA awarded the second year of a Circle of Care grant in the amount of $308,040 for FY 2013, according to information.
The AIEC received approximately $482,766 from SAMHSA from 2011 through 2013. The AIEC did not receive full funding because SAMHSA placed it in “high risk” status, according to the indictment.
McGuire and R.R. embezzled at least $183,703 of those funds, according to the information.
The investigation is ongoing.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert J. Patton and Suzana Koch following an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.