Rochester man gets over 12 years for COVID-19 fraud, child abuse material

1 min read

CONCORD — A Rochester man was sentenced today to over 12 years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to defraud COVID-19 pandemic relief programs and for possessing child sexual abuse material, according to U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young.

Heath Gauthier, 48, received a 145-month prison sentence from U.S.

District Court Judge Laplante and will be subject to five years of supervised release following his incarceration.

Gauthier was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $202,507, with the majority, $196,507, going to the Small Business Administration and $6,000 to two survivors of child sexual abuse.

Gauthier had pleaded guilty on Feb. 22 to charges including wire fraud, attempted wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of child pornography.

U.S. Attorney Young emphasized the severity of Gauthier’s crimes, highlighting that he had more than a thousand images of child sexual abuse and exploited the identities of others to fraudulently obtain pandemic relief funds meant for struggling individuals and businesses.

Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, Jodi Cohen, condemned Gauthier’s actions as disgraceful, noting that he possessed over 1,500 images of child sexual abuse and stole identities from more than ten deceased individuals to defraud government programs.

Harry T. Chavis Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Boston Field Office, stressed the IRS’s dedication to protecting the public from such criminal activity, underscoring the harm Gauthier caused to children and the misuse of pandemic relief funds.

Between February 2020 and March 2021, Gauthier filed fraudulent applications for over a dozen loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs, attempting to acquire more than $1 million in CARES Act loan funds.

He created fictitious companies and used the identities of deceased persons in his applications.

A search warrant executed on Feb. 16 at Gauthier’s residence led to the seizure of his electronic devices, where investigators discovered the child sexual abuse material.

The investigation was led by the IRS Criminal Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Social Security Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew T. Hunter and Kasey Weiland prosecuted the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, an initiative to combat child exploitation and abuse.

With the establishment of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force by the Attorney General on May 17, 2021, efforts have been reinforced to combat pandemic-related fraud and ensure the integrity of relief programs, including those under the CARES Act which provided financial support to Americans and small businesses during the pandemic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.