Ex-Ayudando chief tests positive for virus in NM prison - Albuquerque Journal

Ex-Ayudando chief tests positive for virus in NM prison

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to clarify the operators of a pair of detention facilities.

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Former Ayudando Guardians Inc. President Susan Harris has tested positive for the COVID-19 infection at a New Mexico federal detention center while awaiting sentencing on multiple fraud charges, her attorney said.

Albuquerque lawyer Robert Gorence said Tuesday that he was informed in an email from the U.S. Marshals Service that his 73-year-old client was being “medically supervised” at the privately run Cibola County Correctional Center.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday where Harris may have contracted the virus.

She has been locked up since she and her husband were captured in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on April 15, after they failed to show up for sentencing on federal charges of siphoning millions from nearly 1,000 vulnerable or special needs clients whose finances, and in some cases, guardianships, were being handled by the nonprofit firm. Both had been released pending sentencing after posting their Tanoan home as security.

Susan Harris

More than 5,210 cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus have been reported in New Mexico as of Tuesday, with the state Department of Health reporting 17 cases of COVID-19 at the Otero County Prison.

Another 31 cases have been identified at a different Otero County facility.

Gorence said he’s been told that Harris, after her arrest in April, was initially detained in Oklahoma and was transported by U.S. marshals to a correctional facility in Otero County in southern New Mexico on May 1. Days later, on May 4, she was then taken to the Cibola correctional center.

A Journal call to the U.S. Marshals Office for more information about which facility Harris stayed at in Otero County wasn’t returned Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health hasn’t reported any other cases at the Cibola detention center in Milan, where Harris is reportedly being treated.

Gorence said he has not spoken with Harris since she appeared at a federal court hearing in a Zoom conference call on May 7.

Harris, who was wearing a protective mask at the time, “complained to me she didn’t feel well,” he said.

She was also coughing, he added.

“At 73, she does have some physical conditions that would make her vulnerable to the virus,” Gorence said.

Congregate settings such as nursing homes, jails and prisons have been hot spots for virus outbreaks. The DOH reported a total of 49 cases at New Mexico detention centers as of Tuesday, including a new case at the Torrance County Detention Center.

Both Harris and her husband, William, were scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe on March 2 when they absconded. An attorney for William Harris didn’t respond to a Journal inquiry Tuesday about whether he has tested positive for the virus.

Susan Harris, her husband, and adult son Craig Young have pleaded guilty, along with former Ayudando Chief Financial Officer Sharon Moore, to participating in a decade-long scheme of fraud and money laundering.

Moore was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Susan Harris faces a minimum of 30 years to life in prison. Young’s sentencing is pending.

Federal prosecutors say the stolen funds were used to pay for a luxury lifestyle and were used to purchase homes, vehicles, luxury RVs and cruises, as well as a private box at the Pit at the University of New Mexico. The stolen funds were also used to pay off more than $4.4 million in American Express charges incurred by the defendants and their families.

Home » News » New Mexico News » Ex-Ayudando chief tests positive for virus in NM prison

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
UNM's Museum of Southwestern Biology to display collections at ...
ABQnews Seeker
From 4-9 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, ... From 4-9 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, the public is invited to "Evolution Revealed: An Open Collections Event."
Hundreds pack Santa Fe cathedral for Archbishop Sheehan’s funeral ...
ABQnews Seeker
Achbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan died ... Achbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan died June 3 at age 83. Here's how he was remembered.
Barelas Park reopens after nearly $2 million renovation
ABQnews Seeker
Barelas Park reopened to the public ... Barelas Park reopened to the public Wednesday with many new features.
New Mexico State Police officer accused of sexually assaulting ...
ABQnews Seeker
A State Police officer was arrested ... A State Police officer was arrested Friday in the alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman while the two were on a New Mexico ...
Solomon Peña to remain in custody, judge rules
ABQnews Seeker
A judge said he could find ... A judge said he could find no conditions of release that would reasonably ensure the safety of the community, despite a defense attorney's contention ...
Proposed rule for public lands expected to have outsized ...
ABQnews Seeker
A coalition of conservation and outdoor ... A coalition of conservation and outdoor recreation enthusiasts is urging New Mexicans to support the proposal. Opponents, in turn, question whether the rule will ...
Green chile cheeseburger review: Griff's Hamburgers
ABQnews Seeker
The green chile cheeseburger tour heads ... The green chile cheeseburger tour heads to the International District.
On the market: A property with "It's all good, ...
ABQnews Seeker
Fourplex featured on two episodes of ... Fourplex featured on two episodes of "Better Call Saul."
Albuquerque’s Al Cabral claims gold in Asian Pacific Masters ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The world is a beautiful place ... "The world is a beautiful place and this gives me a chance to travel," said Al Cabral, 89, who won gold medals for javelin ...