Guardians embezzled $4 million from clients, Justice Department says

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Guardians embezzled $4 million from clients, Justice Department says
Guardians embezzled $4 million from clients, Justice Department says

The office of a New Mexico guardian to older adults, veterans and people with special needs has been closed after federal officials accused the company and its co-founders of embezzling $4 million in client funds to finance their “lavish lifestyles.”

The Albuquerque office of Ayudando Alpha Inc., doing business as Ayudando Guardians Inc., was closed Aug. 31, weeks after the government announced the filing of a 28-count indictment against the company and its co-founders, Susan Harris, 70, and Sharon Moore, 62, on July 19.

The indictment contained conspiracy, fraud, theft and money laundering charges arising out of an alleged scheme to siphon funds from client trust accounts managed by Ayudando. The nonprofit corporation was founded in 2004 to provide guardianship, conservatorship and financial management services to hundreds of individuals, many of whom who received benefits from the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs.

Harris and Moore allegedly used the funds to personally benefit themselves and family members, purchasing luxury vehicles, resort vacations and cruises, spa visits and a trip to a college basketball tournament, according to the Justice Department.

Harris and Moore have entered not guilty pleas to the charges in the indictment and are under pretrial supervision and other conditions of release pending a trial, which has not been scheduled.

The U.S. Marshal's Service assumed control of the company's business operations on July 19. Ayudando's 1,400 clients have been or will be transferred to other service providers or new representative payees, the Justice Department said.

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