Suspect in Ayudando Guardians case sentenced to 71 months in prison

Crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe federal judge sentenced 55-year-old Craig M. Young to 71 months in federal prison on Thursday, June 11 for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the Albuquerque nonprofit Ayudando Guardians Inc. The organization had previously provided guardianship and financial management to individuals with special needs.

Young had pleaded guilty on Nov. 12, 2019, and in his plea agreement, admitted to committing the crimes while working at Ayudando. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Young is said to have used a business American Express card in order to pay personal expenses.

Young reportedly knew that Sharon Moore who was the co-owner and chief finance officer at Ayudando paid his American Express bill monthly from at least 2010 to June 2017 using funds from the company’s client reimbursement and petty cash accounts. Young had admitted to acting with Moore and his mother, 73-year-old Susan K. Harris who was the 95% owner and president of Ayudando in order to write and endorse multiple checks from company accounts to themselves, to cash, family members, and other individuals.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice reports Young admitted to paying his monthly mortgage this way and also admitted to selling a motor home that was purchased through the scheme because he believed federal investigators could seize it. Young will have to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his prison term and must pay about $6.8 million in restitution to victims of the fraud scheme.

On July 9, 2019, Moore pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. On July 11, 2019, Harris pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Young’s stepfather, 59-year-old William S. Harris pleaded guilty to conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering on June 25, 2019. Susan and William Harris are currently awaiting sentencing.

They were arrested in Shawnee, Oklahoma on April 15 after fleeing New Mexico and failing to appear for sentencing on March 2. According to the DOJ, the Complex Assets Unit of the U.S. Marshals Service is continuing to work to locate assets and any funds that can be seized and returned to victims as part of the forfeiture and restitution process.

The Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs are working to provide reimbursement of stolen government benefits to Ayudando clients that received them from those agencies that are consistent with federal law and regulations. The Albuquerque offices of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation and will continue to do so.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Pena and Brandon L. Fyffe are prosecuting this case.

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