Justice Department Closes Office For Special Needs Nonprofit Organization Ayudando Guardians

On Friday, September 1, 2017, Acting United States Attorney James D Tierney and United States Marshal Conrad E. Candelaria announced that the office of Ayudando Alpha Inc., which was doing business as Ayundando Guardians Inc., had been closed. While the office was closed on August 31, 2017, the U.S. Marshals Services will assume the responsibility of managing the company’s business affairs under a protective restraining order.

Federal officials announced that a 28-count indictment had been filed against Ayudando and its co-founders, 70-year-old Susan Harris and 62-year-old Sharon Moore, on July 19, 2017. At this time, the U.S. Marshals Service took over the nonprofit’s business operations. The indictment alleges that the defendants had engaging in a scheme to embezzle funds from client trust accounts. Ayudando was a non-profit corporation that offered guardianship, conservatorship and financial management services to individuals with special needs.

A federal court order permitted the United States Marshals Service to run the business to guarantee that its assets were not used or removed improperly. The USMS will also protect the interest of the nonprofit’s clients. The USMS has transferred the majority of Ayudando’s roughly 1,400 clients to other service providers and new representative payees. Many of the clients receive benefits from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ayudando appointed guardians to some of the clients. The USMS has transferred many of these individuals to temporary guardians. Clients will receive communication from their new representative payee, guardian or fiduciary. While the physical space used by Ayudando has now been closed, the USMS is responsible for handling the company’s business affairs. They are committed to continuing the services provided to Ayudando clients.

Defendants Harris and Moore have entered pleads of not guilty to the charges. Both have been released until the trial. A date for the trail has not been set. The defendants remain innocent until proven guilty.