Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Financial Crimes Draw Voluntary License Surrender

A convicted attorney's voluntary resignation was accepted by the Georgia Supreme Court.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued this press release

Nathan E. Hardwick IV has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to defraud his law firm 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.

“This attorney violated the trust placed in him by his clients and his partners; as a result, he is now facing a lengthy prison sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Lawyers who steal client money and embezzle from their partners can expect years in prison for their violation of trust.”

“It is especially troubling that this crime was orchestrated by a lawyer who swore an oath to uphold the law and represent his clients with integrity,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Hardwick was in debt through his own fault and chose to steal from his clients and firm to pay back that debt and finance his extravagant lifestyle. Now he will pay back his debt to society in prison.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Hardwick and Asha R. Maurya engaged in a scheme to defraud MHSLAW, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Morris Hardwick Schneider, LLC, and LandCastle Title, LLC, (collectively referred to as “MHS”). MHS owned and operated a law firm that specialized in residential real estate closings and foreclosures, and it ran a title business. MHS employed approximately 800 people in 16 states. Hardwick was the managing partner of the law firm and the CEO of the 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 and control.

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 from MHS’s accounts 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.

Nathan E. Hardwick IV, 53, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross to serve 15 years, forfeit over $19.9 million in criminal proceeds, given a $2,300 special assessment, and will be required to pay restitution to the victims of the offense. When he is released from prison, Hardwick will be required to serve six years on supervised release.  Judge Ross sentenced Asha R. Maurya to seven years in prison, and three years of supervised release.  Maurya was also ordered to forfeit $900,000 in criminal proceeds.  Their restitution hearing is scheduled for May 9, 2019.

AbovetheLaw reported on the criminal case

Back in 2014, we were shocked when Morris Hardwick Schneider filed suit against its former managing partner Nathan Hardwick for allegedly embezzling $30 million from the firm’s clients. The story was, to say the least, extraordinary: paying off casino debts in the millions, buying luxurious accommodations, and racking up miles on private jets.

Now he’s been indicted.

As we described the operation based on the civil complaint:

Morris Hardwick Schneider, along with its affiliated entity LandCastle Title, filed a lawsuit on Monday alleging that its former managing parter Nathan Hardwick (technically Nathan Hardwick IV, to give it that extra pretentiousness) had “systematically depleted the Firm accounts, including Firm Trust Accounts and Firm Operating Accounts, for his personal benefits.” The scheme described in the complaint is complex, involving a constant theft upon Peter to compensate Paul — moving money from one account to another to keep anyone from uncovering the extent of the operation — as well as multiple specific instances of altering bank statements to throw others off.

According to the indictment handed down earlier this month, it seems as though Hardwick may have been playing catch-up with all these transfers, with details of outstanding lawsuits by the Bellagio and a private jet company filed back in 2011. Isn’t that always the way?


Hardwick has decamped from his lavish digs at the St. Regis to the federal lock-up. His Motion for Detention will be heard tomorrow.

If you want to bet he gets released, the Bellagio will take that action.

(Mike Frisch)


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