Tracey M.A. Stockton, 64, and Brian Andrew Bushell, 47, live together at a purported residence for clergy called Annunciation House in Marblehead, New England, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. She is an attorney while he is a purported Orthodox Christian monk.
Stockton served as general counsel and authorized representative of several organizations controlled by Bushell. Based in Marblehead, these organizations included Annunciation House, a craft saltern called Marblehead Salt Co., a monastic brewery called Marblehead Brewing Co., an Orthodox Christian charitable foundation called St. Paul’s Foundation and a monastic house called the Shrine of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Patron of Sailors, Brewers and Repentant Thieves.
In April 2020, Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds became available amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On May 17, 2021, 86th U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland, then 68, established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance efforts to combat and prevent fraud related to the pandemic.
With Stockton’s help, Bushell allegedly started submitting numerous applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to receive Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) for the organizations that he controlled. In the applications, he allegedly vastly overstated the organizations’ operational expenses in 2019 to obtain larger loan amounts.
To support the SBA applications, Stockton and Bushell allegedly submitted false documents that fabricated their four organizations’ revenues and expenses. Through their alleged misrepresentations on these applications and subsequent loan increase requests, they obtained $3.5 million in EIDL funds for the organizations.
Upon receiving EIDL and PPP funds, Stockton and Bushell allegedly bought Swiss watches worth $40,000, a Goyard designer handbag worth almost $7,000 and Hermès products worth $2,400. They allegedly spent over $1 million of the CARES Act proceeds for extensive renovations to two properties in Marblehead they planned to develop into a monastic complex featuring around $40,000 in antique furniture, around $90,000 in audio video system equipment, a brewery, a beer garden and a chapel.
On October 13, 2022, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Stockton and Bushell. They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and unlawful monetary transactions.