Man charged with obtaining $2.1 million in COVID-19 relief funds and using it to buy a yacht and a new Kia

  • Kenneth Gaughan of Washington, D.C., is accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $2.1 million in coronavirus relief loan funding.
  • Additionally, he is being accused of using the money to buy himself a yacht, a row house, and a Kia Stinger. 
  • Gaughan is also facing a separate charge of defrauding the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., of  $472,000 from 2010 to 2018.
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More than $525 billion in loans have been approved through the US government's Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. But one man is accused of instead spending $1.5 million of that on a house, a yacht, and a brand-new Kia. 

A criminal complaint that was unsealed on Tuesday said Kenneth Gaughan, 41, from Washington, D.C., has been arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $2.1 million in PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans relief funds, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The complaint alleges that Gaughan requested and obtained his short-lived millions by applying on behalf of several companies that all falsely claimed to register emotional support animals. He is being accused of forging paperwork and bank records, and 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. 

After receiving the money, the complaint said Gaughan used it to buy a $300,000 yacht, a $1.13 million row house, and a $46,000 2020 Kia Stinger.

In addition to arresting Gaughan, authorities also seized the yacht, the Stinger, and Gaughan's investment and bank accounts. They are also filing a civil forfeiture complaint against the row house.

The unsealed criminal complaint also shows that Gaughan was charged in a separate embezzlement plot. He was accused of stealing more than $472,000 from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., from at least June 2010 through April 2018. He worked there as Assistant Superintendent.

The charges in the complaint, the DOJ notes, are still allegations.

Gaughan isn't the only person to be accused of using COVID-19 relief funds for unrelated purchases. Business Insider previously reported on two others accused of fraudulently obtaining relief funding and then using the money for personal purchases.

The first was a Florida man who was accused of buying a $318,000 Lamborghini Huracan and going on a "spending spree." The second was a Texas man who was accused of buying a Lamborghini Urus with the stolen funds, as well as funding a pickup truck, a Rolex, real estate, and visits to night and strip clubs.

Unlike the previous two, the charges against Gaughan do not involve a Lamborghini. Perhaps the $1 million house purchase spurred a need for some modesty. 

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