CONCORD – Heath Gauthier, 46, of Rochester, New Hampshire, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, attempted wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Jane E. Young announced today.
Gauthier was arrested this morning and has been temporally detained pending trial.
The indictment alleges that, between February 2020 and March 2021, Gauthier fraudulently applied for more than a dozen loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. Congress had authorized the PPP and EIDL relief programs to help the millions of Americans and many small businesses adversely affected by the early stages of the COVID pandemic. PPP loans were issued by private lenders but fully guaranteed by the government, and EIDL funds were issued by the Small Business Administration.
According to the indictment, Gauthier applied for loans for non-existent companies and used the identities of deceased individuals in his applications, listing them in some applications as owners or employees of the fictitious companies. He also submitted false documents, including fabricated tax documents and counterfeit driver’s licenses, in support of the applications. In total the indictment alleges that Gauthier applied for more than $1 million in CARES Act loan funds.
The charges in the indictment are only allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Hunter.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
originally published at HUMAN RIGHTS - USA DAILY NEWS 24