By Associated Press - Monday, March 2, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A federal judge issued bench warrants Monday for the former president of a now-defunct nonprofit that provided guardianship services for vulnerable and special needs clients and her husband after they both failed to appear for sentencing for money laundering and other crimes.

Susan Harris, 73, was facing a minimum of 30 years in prison while her husband, William Harris, faced seven years for crimes related to the embezzlement of an estimated $10 million.

As one of New Mexico’s largest guardianship firms, Ayudando Guardians Inc., was shuttered by federal authorities in 2017 after the embezzlement was exposed. Some of the more than 800 victims who lost money were expected to address the court as the hearing continued Monday.

Defense attorneys told U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez they could not reach the couple by phone Monday when they failed to show up for court.

The couple had been free pending sentencing after surrendering their U.S. passports and putting up their home in an affluent Albuquerque neighborhood as security.

Two other defendants did appear for sentencing. They are former chief financial officer Sharon Moore and Harris’ son Craig Young.

Federal prosecutors say the defendants used client trust, savings and other funds to finance a lavish personal lifestyle that included luxury vacations, and upscale homes and vehicles.

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