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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Wyoming

Acting United States Attorney Nicholas Vassallo announced today that PAUL MCCOWN, 33, of Lander, Wyoming, was sentenced on  July 5, 2022, by Chief United States District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl, for four counts of wire fraud in relation to pandemic relief programs administered by the Wyoming Business Council and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds and three counts of wire fraud in relation to money fraudulently obtained from Ria R Squared, Inc., the proceeds of which were used in part to repay the Wyoming Business Council. McCown was sentenced to 63 months’ imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $700 in special assessments. The court will determine any restitution amount at a later time.

Paul McCown was the Chief Financial Officer of the Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. He was also attempting to open a gin distillery. When the Wyoming Business Council received CARES Act funds to distribute to Wyoming businesses suffering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCown applied for grants for his personal business even though he had never sold any gin. After his grants were audited, he agreed to pay back the $841,863 he fraudulently obtained from the State of Wyoming. Through his position at Wyoming Catholic College, he was introduced to a private financial management firm, Ria R. Squared, Inc. He then engaged in an elaborate scheme that included impersonating others and forging documents to fraudulently induce the financial management firm to loan him $15,000,000.

“Paul McCown’s fraudulent behavior was extreme and went on for nearly a year” said Acting United States Attorney Nicholas Vassallo. “He violated  the trust of the people of the State of Wyoming and the United States by fraudulently obtaining nearly $850,000 in COVID relief money. His misconduct damaged the community as a whole and harmed businesses that legitimately needed the aid. He then went on to defraud a private investment firm for approximately $15,000,000. The District Court’s 63-month sentence reflects the gravity of McCown’s deceitful conduct.”

FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said, “Mr. McCown took advantage of money allocated by the Federal government through programs that were created to provide critical support to our communities during the pandemic. This case is a reminder that the FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those who defraud the Federal government to enrich themselves.”

This crime was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Christyne M. Martens prosecuted the case.  

Case No. 22-cr-00023-SWS


Contact: Lori Hogan (Contractor)
United States Attorney Spokesman
Office: 307-772-2124
Twitter: @usaowy

Updated July 20, 2022

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 22-075