HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Joseph Kuklis of Wellington Strategies is charged with corrupt organizations, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, forgery and theft by deception after being accused of stealing over $100,000 from small business owners.

According to Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the 48-year-old Kuklis is a lobbyist that operates a government consulting firm called Wellington Strategies.

An investigation was launched into the company and discovered that starting in 2017, Kuklis charged small business owners a consulting fee that he said would grant them funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development (DCED). Kuklis then forged documents from the DCED to make it seem as if the companies had been granted the funding he promised.

The businesses then called the DCED and they were informed there was no funding.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy across the Commonwealth, and they deserve to be supported, not scammed,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The defendant falsely promised small business owners that he would obtain badly-needed grant money for them, but instead he used their money to line his own pockets. Today, my Office put a stop to his criminal behavior and we continue to work tirelessly to hold him accountable to the hardworking business owners of Pennsylvania.”

Kuklis mostly never returned any of the consulting fee monies he received.

Some of the companies involved were: Pittsburgh Technical College, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, Digital Dream Labs, Blank Concrete and Supplies, Innovatus Imaging and IRA Logix, Inc.

The Office of The Attorney General asks any small business that thinks they may have been a victim of Kuklis to call them at 412-880-0464.