*Editor’s note below
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – An Albuquerque couple who stole millions of dollars from veterans and people with disabilities are finally facing their punishment Thursday. Susan and William Harris were sentenced to federal prison. Susan was sentenced to 47 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and William was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
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Susan was the founder of Ayudando Guardians, a nonprofit contracted by the government to manage the finances of people with special needs, including disabled veterans and those with mental deficiencies. Susan Harris who was president at the time along with her husband used their client’s money as part of the fraud scheme and money laundering conspiracy. According to court records, the stolen funds were used to pay off more than $4.4 million in credit card charges incurred by the defendants and their families.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice District of New Mexico, the superseding indictment filed on Dec. 5, 2017, charged Susan, William, Sharon A. Moore, 64, and Susan Harris’ son, Craig M. Young, 53, with various financial crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
According to the news release, Susan maintained Ayudando’s appearance of legitimacy, by submitting a proposal to the New Mexico Office of Guardianship that contained false representations, including a false claim that Young was a nationally certified guardian at the time of the submission.
The news release states that William, who worked as a guardian, admitted that he knew that Moore was siphoning payments to clients from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration and using the money for benefit. William admitted receiving, endorsing and depositing dozens of checks drawn on Ayudando accounts for his own personal benefit, according to the news release.
Susan and William will be required to pay the entire amount of stolen funds as restitution to the victims.
The news release says Young pleaded guilty on Nov. 12, 2019, and was sentenced on June 11, 2020, to five years and 11 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay approximately $6.8 million in restitution to the victims.
Moore pleaded guilty on July 11, 2019, and was sentenced on March 2, 2020, to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay the entire amount of stolen funds as restitution to the victims.
The news release states that the Albuquerque Field Office of the FBI and the Phoenix Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Complex Assets Unit and the U.S. Marshals Service, 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 and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Peña and Brandon L. Fyffe prosecuted the case.
In a previous version of this story, it said $11 million in credit card charges were incurred, that is incorrect, $4.4 million in credit card charges was incurred by the defendants and their families.