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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 22, 2021

Former Richmond Attorney Sentenced for Obstructing Investigation of Bankruptcy Embezzlement

RICHMOND, Va. – A former Richmond attorney was sentenced today to 44 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for obstructing an official proceeding in connection with his attempts to thwart an investigation into his own fraudulent conduct as a bankruptcy trustee.

According to court documents, Bruce H. Matson, 64, misled the U.S. Trustee’s Office in 2019 when he made false statements in response to allegations that he misappropriated funds as a court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy of LandAmerica Financial Group (LFG). A federal investigation into those allegations uncovered multiple instances of Matson’s embezzlement from the LFG Trust between 2015 and 2018, totaling approximately $800,000 in misappropriated funds.

Additionally, Matson manipulated the budget for LFG’s post-bankruptcy wind-down period so that he could divert residual funds to himself and others after the close of the LFG bankruptcy, when he would no longer be subject to scrutiny by LFG creditors and the Bankruptcy Court. In particular, Matson misrepresented the amount of money needed for the wind-down process and obscured the amount of money actually retained in Trust accounts. In order to access these residual funds, Matson also inserted language into the budget the night before it was filed with the Bankruptcy Court. This language seemingly gave Matson the authority to pay discretionary bonuses using residual funds. Matson knew the last-minute language included in the budget contradicted other court filings, but he instructed other trust professionals not to amend the filings, including the proposed Final Decree ultimately endorsed by the Bankruptcy Court in December 2015. As a result of this conduct, Matson was able to siphon away more than $3.2 million for personal payments to himself and others, depleting the Trust account more than two years before the end of the wind-down period.

The federal investigation also uncovered an unrelated instance of Matson embezzling approximately $23,000 in 2016 from the estate of Forefront Capital, a defunct futures broker for which Matson served as receiver and debtor-designee. In total, between 2015 and 2019, Matson wrongfully obtained more than $4 million in bankruptcy-related assets.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and Daniel A. Adame, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.

The U.S. Trustee Program provided significant assistance in this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Garnett and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Lee Martin and Kevin S. Elliker prosecuted 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. 3:21-cr-79.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
USAVAE.Press@usdoj.gov
Updated November 29, 2021