A Marblehead man who presented himself as an Orthodox Christian monk and a lawyer have been charged in a $3.6 million COVID relief fraud scheme, according to the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's Office.
Brian Andrew Bushell, 47, and Tracey M.A. Stockton, 64, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and unlawful monetary transactions, a news release said Thursday.
Bushell, who presented himself as "Father" and "Rev. Fr." Bushell or Andrew, was in charge of several organizations in Marblehead, including the St. Paul’s Foundation, a monastic house and a monastic brewery called Marblehead Brewing Co., according to prosecutors. Stockton served as general counsel for the organizations, officials added.
Bushnell is being accused of "vastly" overstating the organizations' operational expenses when applying to receive Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration shortly after CARES Act money became available at the start of the pandemic. The pair allegedly submitted false documents, and got $3.5 million in EIDL funds for the organizations. Additionally, the pair allegedly inflated the number of employees they had and the amount of payroll expenses each borrower organization had, resulting in an additional $146,608 in PPP funds, prosecutors said.
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Bushell and Stockton allegedly spent over $1 million on renovations at two properties in Marblehead, which they planned to develop into a monastic complex featuring a chapel, brewery, beer garden, around $90,000 in audio video system equipment and nearly $40,000 in antique furniture, prosecutors said, adding they also bought a new residential property.
Bushell also used the money to buy over $40,000 in Swiss watches, a nearly $7,000 Goyard designer handbag for Stockton, $2,400 on things from Hermès and other luxury items, prosecutors allege.
The two defendants did not comment as they left federal court on Thursday afternoon.
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One Marblehead neighbor, who did not want to give her name, said she was not a fan of Bushell.
"He is a totally unfriendly person, I met him through us walking dogs," that neighbor said. "He's just an extraordinarily unfriendly, scary person."