Craig M. Young sentenced to71 months in prison in $11 million Ayudando Guardians financial fraud scheme
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A federal judge in Santa Fe, New Mexico sentenced Craig M. Young, 55, of Albuquerque to 71 months in federal prison today for conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the operation of Ayudando Guardians, Inc., a non-profit corporation based in Albuquerque that previously provided guardianship, conservatorship, and financial management to hundreds of people with special needs.
Young pleaded guilty on Nov. 12, 2019. In his plea agreement, he admitted committing these crimes while employed as a guardian for Ayudando. Young used a business American Express card to pay personal expenses. He knew that Sharon Moore, 64, of Albuquerque, who served as co-owner and chief finance officer at Ayudando, paid his American Express bill each month from at least 2010 to June 2017 using funds from Ayudando’s client reimbursement and petty cash accounts.
Young further admitted acting with Moore and his mother, Susan K. Harris, 73, of Albuquerque, who was the of 95% owner and president of Ayudando, to write and endorse numerous checks from Ayudando accounts to themselves, to cash, and to family members and to other payees for their own benefit. Young admitted paying his monthly mortgage in this manner. Young further admitted selling a motor home purchased with proceeds from the fraud scheme because he believed federal investigators could seize the motor home as proceeds of criminal activity.
Young must serve a 3-year term of supervised release following imprisonment. He must also pay approximately $6.8 million in restitution to the victims of the fraud scheme.
Moore pleaded guilty on July 9, 2019, to conspiracy, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. She is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Harris pleaded guilty on July 11, 2019, to conspiracy, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Young’s stepfather, William S. Harris, 59, of Albuquerque, who also worked as a guardian, pleaded guilty on June 25, 2019, to conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Susan and William Harris are currently in custody awaiting sentencing. The U.S. Marshals Service arrested them in Shawnee, Oklahoma on April 15 after they fled New Mexico and failed to appear for sentencing on March 2.
The Complex Assets Unit of the U.S. Marshals Service is continuing to work to locate assets and funds that can be seized and returned to victims through the forfeiture and restitution process. Additionally, the VA and SSA are working to provide reimbursement of stolen government benefits to those Ayudando clients that received benefits from those agencies, consistent with federal law and regulations.
The Albuquerque offices of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation, which resulted in the charges in the indictment, and are leading the continuing investigation. The Complex Assets Unit and the Albuquerque office of the USMS, the Criminal Investigations Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the Dallas Field Division of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General are assisting in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Peña and Brandon L. Fyffe are prosecuting the case.