CONCORD - A 46-year-old Rochester man was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, attempted wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorneys Office announced on Thursday.
Heath Gauthier was arrested Thursday 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 and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs. Congress had authorized the 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 court documents, 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.
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.