New Mexico man gets 6 years in prison in embezzlement scheme
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a court-appointed guardian to six years in federal prison after he was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from vulnerable and special needs clients.
U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez dismissed a plea Thursday for Craig Young, 54, to be sentenced to a year of home confinement, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Young pleaded guilty in November to two conspiracy charges.
The now-defunct Albuquerque-based firm Ayudando Guardians Inc., where Young worked, was shuttered in 2017 after authorities discovered about 1,000 clients lost more than $10 million in the multi-year embezzlement scheme.
Young regularly used the company credit card for personal expenses, but claimed he didn’t know that client trust funds and savings were financing his luxury vacations, upscale home and other personal luxuries, prosecutors said.
Young’s mother, stepfather and a family friend were all also charged with crimes related to the scheme.
“The harm is unspeakable,” Vazquez said.
Young’s attorney Ryan Villa asked for a year of home confinement, with three years of supervised release. Prosecutors recommended 15 years in prison.
Some of the clients, deemed incapacitated by the courts, had physical limitations and mental difficulties and all relied on Ayudando, Vazquez said. Others who weren’t wards of the state opted to put their savings and trust funds in the company’s hands for safekeeping.
Villa argued that the government had no evidence that Young was involved in any of the transfers of client money for personal use.
Prosecutors argued Young’s job provided a pretext to gain large amounts of money from the company. Young was also on the firm’s board of directors.
“He offered himself up as a person to make life-and-death decisions for his clients,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Pena told the judge Thursday. “That is the standard we have to hold him to at this juncture.”