MARBLEHEAD, MASS. (WHDH) - A Marblehead man and woman have been arrested in connection with alleged fraudulent applications for COVID-19 relief funds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for Massachusetts.

Brian Andrew Bushell, 47, and Tracey M.A. Stockton, 64, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and unlawful monetary transactions.

Bushell is a purported Orthodox Christian monk who called himself “Father” and “Rev. Fr.” Bushell or Andrew, controlled several Marblehead religiously connected organizations, including the charity St. Paul’s Foundation, the “monastic house” Shrine of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Patron of Sailors, Brewers & Repentant Thieves, a purported clergy residence Annunciation house, a monastic brewery called Marblehead Brewing Co. and a craft Saltern.

Stockton, an attorney, served as general counsel and authorized representative of these organizations. Bushell and Stockton lived together at Annunciation House.

Shortly after these COVID-19 CARES Act funds became available in April 2020, the two allegedly submitted several applications to the Small Business Administration to receive loans for these organizations. They both allegedly submitted false documents “vastly” overstating the organizations’ 2019 operating expenses to obtain larger loan amounts. They received $3.5 million in funds for these organizations based on these allegedly false documents and claims.

Bushell and Stockton also allegedly submitted several applications for the Paycheck Protection Program funs for Bushell’s organizations. They allegedly inflated the number of employees and the amount of payroll expenses that each organization had. They received $146,608 in PPP funds.

“We allege that these two individuals engaged in brazen, criminal behavior that took advantage of our government’s efforts to rescue organizations—both for-profit and non-profit— by assisting with specific, legitimate expenses during the global pandemic,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Pandemic relief funds are not ‘free money’ – they are a lifeline designed to help business owners and non-profit leaders experiencing real economic hardship. Our government should not and will not foot the bill for fancy designer handbags and lavish lifestyles. Hard-working people deserve these funds.”

Bushell and Stockton allegedly used over $1 million of these funds to renovate two Marblehead properties they planned to develop into a monastic complex with a chapel, brewery and beer garden. Bushell also allegedly used the funds for over $40,000 in Swiss watches, a nearly $7,000 designer handbag for Stockton and $2,400 in luxury goods from Hermès.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit unlawful monetary transactions provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property.

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