A gay D.C. resident and former official for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has been accused of illegally obtaining over $2 million in funds intended to held small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenneth P. Gaughan, 41, faces charges of bank fraud, theft of government funds, wire fraud, and money laundering after allegedly using loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program to buy a house, yacht, and sports car, Out reports.
The Office of the U.S Attorney for the District of Columbia alleges that Gaughan submitted more than a dozen loan applications for nonexistent companies, including registering the “business names of at least eight bogus emotional support animal companies.”
Gaughan successfully obtained more than $2.1 million in loans from the government-backed programs, intended to help businesses remain afloat during the height of the pandemic.
After securing the loans, Gaughan allegedly used part of the money to “purchase a 2020 Cruisers Yachts 338 CX 33-foot watercraft, a 2020 Kia Stinger, and a row house,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The purchases were valued at $300,000, $46,000, and $1.13 million, respectively.
“We will not tolerate exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said in a statement. “This Office will not allow fraudsters to steal taxpayer money intended to help small businesses that are currently struggling.”
The indictment also alleges that Gaughan used his position as a contracting liaison to embezzle more than $472,000 from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington between 2010 and 2018.
Gaughan allegedly submitted invoices for contractors recruited to provide services including anti-bullying and crisis intervention programs, but no such programs took place.
Instead, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Gaughan controlled the companies he hired, and pocketed the money intended for the services.
He previously was indicted in Maryland in 2018 over allegations that he had embezzled $45,000 from a Catholic schools program, but those charges were dismissed last year on a technicality regarding where the case was prosecuted.
Federal prosecutors noted that Gaughan waited mere months after his trial before allegedly trying to defraud the government.
“Mr. Gaughan was so emboldened by deceiving a church for eight years he then, allegedly, turned his deception to the government,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone, “stealing funds that were meant to be a lifeline for struggling businesses during an unprecedented economic downturn, and greedily using them to satisfy his own materialistic desires.”
Kelly R. Jackson, IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office, added: “Unfortunately, there are greedy individuals who choose to abuse these programs in order to enrich their lifestyle.”
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