A gay Catholic official has been accused of fraudulently using a coronavirus relief scheme to buy a yacht, a townhouse and a luxury sports car.
Kenneth Gaughan, 41, fraudulently received more than $2.1 million in payment protection program (PPP) loans and economic injury disaster loans (EIDL), the United States Department of Justice has alleged.
He has also been charged for embezzling funds from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C., where he worked as assistant superintendent.
Gaughan appeared before Judge G Michael Harvey in the district of Columbia earlier this week. He has been charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of the theft of government funds, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering.
Department officials said Gaughan applied for the funds through multiple companies by pretending to register emotional support animals.
He allegedly forged paperwork and bank records in order to obtain the coronavirus relief funds.
Officials hit out at gay Catholic official Kenneth Gaughan for allegedly ‘stealing money’ from those in need.
“We will not tolerate exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain,” said acting US attorney Michael R. Sherwin.
“This office will not allow fraudsters to steal taxpayer money intended to help small businesses that are currently struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Kelly R. Jackson, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), hit out at “greedy individuals” for abusing coronavirus relief schemes for businesses for personal gain.
“This conduct will be investigated to ensure crooks are held responsible for stealing this money away from those who were in need,” Jackson said.
Meanwhile, FBI special agent Jennifer Boone said: “Mr Gaughan was so emboldened by deceiving a church for eight years he then, allegedly, turned his deception to the government, 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.”
Gaughan also allegedly defrauded the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. of $472,000 while he was employed by the organisation between June 2010 and April 2018.
We will not tolerate exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain.
In his role, Gaughan was responsible or recruiting and acting as a point of contact between contractors that provided services to the archdiocese. These contractors included groups that helped the archdiocese implement anti-bullying and crisis intervention policies at 95 Catholic schools in the region.
Gaughan is accused of having the archdiocese pay fraudulent invoices to three companies he secretly owned for services the companies did not provide.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges during a court appearance on Tuesday (August 11), according to the Washington Blade.
Gaughan was released on personal recognisance while he awaits trial and was granted a federal public defender attorney to represent him.
PinkNews has contacted Gaughan’s attorney for comment.