Paralegal Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement of Funds from Law Firm Trust Account
RICHMOND, Va. – A Midlothian woman pleaded guilty today to conspiring to embezzle funds from the trust account of the law firm where she worked.
According to court documents, from at least September 2, 2015, through December 5, 2017, Lindsey Epps Passmore, 38, was a paralegal at a Richmond area law firm that specialized in real estate law. That firm held loan proceeds in an escrow account for a private lender to Passmore’s co-defendant, Joshua Brian Romano, 39, of Chesterfield, who was involved with the purchase, rehabilitation, and sale of homes around Richmond. The loan proceeds were earmarked for Romano to use them only for the purchase of purchase and rehabilitation of specific properties, and only with the lender’s express approval for each disbursement. In order to cover this up, Passmore sent the lender emails that falsely reported the balances held in escrow for these properties.
Passmore disbursed a total of $1,206,953.27 of the lender’s funds held in escrow 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 allegedly used by Romano for purposes outside the scope of the agreements with the lender.
Passmore is scheduled to be sentenced on August 18. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. 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.
Romano is scheduled to face a trial by jury on October 17, 2022. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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 U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth W. Hanes accepted the plea.
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.