Prosecutors ask judge to keep DC LGBTQ nonprofit founder Ruby Corado locked up, calling her ‘serious flight risk’

FILE - Ruby Corado (Courtesy 7News)

Federal prosecutors in D.C. are asking a judge to keep LGBTQ nonprofit founder Ruby Corado behind bars as she awaits trial on money laundering charges, saying she poses a “unique and serious flight risk.”

Corado, 53, is charged with money laundering and defrauding two COVID-19 pandemic-era loan programs. At a detention hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in D.C., a federal magistrate judge postponed until Tuesday a decision about whether Corado would remain behind bars.

Federal prosecutors said Corado received more than a $1 million in taxpayer-backed emergency relief funds intended to support the Casa Ruby nonprofit, which provided housing and other support to LGBTQ youth. Prosecutors said Corado funneled at least $150,000 to bank accounts in El Salvador, which she also hid from the IRS.

“Although the defendant was once a leading charitable figure in our community, she betrayed the trust of the donors who supported her, the District, and federal government that funded her, and the very community she claimed to serve,” John Borchert and Madhu Chugh, assistant U.S. attorneys, said in court papers requesting Corado continue to be detained.

When financial irregularities within Casa Ruby first came to light in the summer of 2022, prosecutors said Corado sold her home in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and fled to El Salvador. She was arrested in Maryland this week after authorities said she unexpectedly returned to the U.S.

“This speaks volumes about her character,” the prosecutors wrote. “When coupled with the fact that the defendant abandoned her career, sold her home, and fled the country after learning she might be prosecuted for this financial misconduct, there are simply no conditions or combination of conditions that can assure the defendant’s return to court.”

Defense attorney: Corado attempting to ‘rebuild her life here’

Corado’s public defender with the office of the Federal Public Defender said prosecutors were overhyping concerns she would flee if released and that she has deep ties to the area.

Although a citizen of El Salvador, Corado has lived in the U.S. for 35 years, is married to a U.S. citizen from the D.C. area and has family in the area, Assistant Federal Defender Diane Shrewsbury wrote in court papers.

The defense attorney said Corado returned to the U.S. to start a new job.

“When Ms. Corado returned to the United States in February 2024, she intended to remain and rebuild her life here,” the defense attorney said.

The defense attorney also said detaining Corado before trial would be cruel because as a transgender woman, she would be held in a protective unit in the men’s unit of the D.C. Jail over concerns she could be sexually assaulted.

“Protective custody at the D.C. Jail is solitary confinement, with extremely limited times away from her cell, one hour a day if she is lucky,” the defense attorney wrote.

In court Friday, federal Magistrate Judge Robin Mariweather said she was “not inclined” to release Corado on her own but would consider releasing her to a third-party custodian.

The defense attorney said Corado’s sister, who lives in suburban Maryland, could serve as that custodian, and that Corado is willing to comply with any conditions to court would set if she’s released, including GPS monitoring and passport revocation.

The judge is set to make a decision Tuesday.

Prosecutors: $1.3 million in loans

Casa Ruby was once one of the most prominent LGBTQ nonprofits in the District and received more than $9.6 million in grants from District agencies in the five years leading up to the dissolution of the nonprofit.

Corado received two loans totaling nearly $800,000 under the 2020 Paycheck Protection Act, promising to use the funds to help the nonprofit weather the COVID-19 pandemic, prosecutors said. She also received another $500,000 in separate loans under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

“Rather than use the opportunity of the immense emergency relief funding offered during the pandemic as a second chance for Casa Ruby,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant took advantage of the situation to formulate an exit strategy. She absconded to El Salvador with at least $150,000 of those loan proceeds.”

In addition to the loan proceeds, Corado transferred another $149,999 to her personal bank accounts in El Salvador in 2021, prosecutors said. Under federal law, people with foreign bank accounts with balances greater than $10,000 have to file paperwork with the IRS, which Corado did not do, prosecutors said.

Casa Ruby shut down amid financial turmoil

Casa Ruby shut down in July 2022 amid financial turmoil, shuttering its shelter sites amid reports of overdue rent, unpaid staff and threats of eviction.

That same month, the D.C. attorney general filed a civil complaint, accusing Corado of funneling more than $400,000 intended for the nonprofit’s work into personal bank accounts.

Corado, who had been living in El Salvador, where she is from, “quietly and unexpectedly returned” Feb. 25, prosecutors wrote in court papers.

She was arrested by the FBI in a hotel room in Laurel, Maryland, on Tuesday. At the time of her arrest, she had an El Salvador passport issued on Feb. 23.

In an interview with law enforcement on the day of her arrest, prosecutors said Corado admitted preparing and submitting the loan applications and that she was aware the funds could only be used by Casa Ruby to pay rent, utilities and payroll expenses. But denied using the money for an impermissible purpose.

All told, the charges against her carry maximum penalties of decades behind bars.

Bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years incarceration. Wire fraud carries an additional penalty of up to 20 years. The two money laundering charges carry maximum penalties of 20 years and 10 years imprisonment, respectively. The charge of failing to file a report of a foreign bank account is punishable by up to five years behind bars.

WTOP’s Matt Kaufax contributed to this report. 

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Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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