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Press Release

Chesterfield Man Convicted in Scheme to Embezzle Funds in Law Firm Trust Account

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Chesterfield man yesterday on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Joshua Brian Romano, 40, owned various businesses that purchased, rehabilitated, and sold homes around Richmond. He funded this work via construction loans that were held in escrow in the trust account of a Chesterfield County law firm. The loans were earmarked for use by Romano only for the purchase of and rehabilitation of specific properties, and only with the lender’s express approval for each disbursement. Acting at Romano’s direction, Lindsey Epps Passmore, 39, a paralegal at the law firm, disbursed $1.2 million of a lender’s funds held in trust for Romano’s projects without receiving the lender’s approval or by misleading the lender about how the funds were to be used. The funds were then used for purposes outside the scope of the agreements with the lender.      

Romano faces 20 years in prison on each charge when sentenced on January 19, 2023. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Passmore pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and is scheduled for sentencing on November 17.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne accepted the verdict.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Moore is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:22-cr-26.

Updated October 21, 2022

Financial Fraud