ATLANTA –Nathan E. Hardwick IV has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to defraud his law firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider (MHS), out of millions of dollars. On October 12, 2018, following a four-week trial, a federal jury convicted Hardwick of wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution. On Tuesday, Hardwick, 53, was sentenced to serve 15 years, forfeit more than $19.9 million in criminal proceed and required to pay restitution to the victims. When released, Hardwick will be required to serve six years on supervised release.
Federal prosecutors said Hardwick and Asha R. Maurya engaged in a scheme to defraud the firm, which specialized in residential real estate closings and foreclosures. The firm employed 800 people in 16 states, and Hardwick was its managing partner and CEO of its title business. He also ran the law firm’s closing division, which was based in Atlanta. Maurya managed MHS’s accounting operations under Hardwick’s supervision.
In early 2007, Hardwick and his law partners sold off part of their business, and Hardwick pocketed approximately $11.8 million. Hardwick quickly squandered that money, however, and by the end of 2010 was broke and deeply in debt.
From January 2011 through August 2014, Hardwick siphoned off more than $26 million to pay his personal debts and expenses and to finance his extravagant lifestyle. More than $19 million of that was client money that was stolen from MHS’s attorney trust accounts. Hardwick spent approximately $18.5 million of the fraud proceeds on gambling, private jets, and more than 50 different social companions.
MHS’s audited financial statements showed that the firm’s combined net income from 2011 through 2013 was approximately $10 million. During that same three-year period, however, Hardwick took more than $20 million out of the firm’s accounts.
Both Hardwick and Maurya made numerous false statements to Hardwick’s law partners concerning the amount of money that Hardwick was taking out of the firm. And Hardwick and Maurya conspired to cover-up the fraud.
Maurya was sentenced to seven years in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $900,000 in criminal proceeds.
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