Former Gulf Breeze Attorney Sentenced to 40 Months in Prison for Bank Fraud, Embezzlement, and Money Laundering Charges
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Richard Michael Colbert, 56, of Pensacola Beach, was sentenced today to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $3.7 million in restitution for conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud, false statement to a federally insured financial institution, nine counts of money laundering, and two counts of theft, embezzlement or misapplication by a person connected with a financial institution. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
In 2007, Colbert, while working as a title attorney, signed and submitted a false HUD-1 to the now defunct GulfSouth Private Bank in order for one of his business partners, a former builder, Lawrence Wright, to obtain a million dollar loan from GulfSouth. As a result of Colbert and Wright’s fraudulent conduct, GulfSouth ultimately sustained in excess of $636,000 in losses.
In 2010, Colbert again while working as a title attorney, facilitated a bank and mail fraud conspiracy by handling a number of closings that defrauded Bank of America, Beach Community Bank, and the now defunct Premier Community Bank. Bank of America, Beach Community Bank, and Premier Community Bank sustained losses totaling in excess of $2.3 million from the conspiracy.
Additionally, beginning in December 2010, while acting as an escrow agent for Beach Community Bank, Colbert embezzled and misapplied in excess of $400,000 that was being held at Beach Community Bank. Thereafter, between December 2010, and March 2011, Colbert conducted a series of financial transactions laundering the funds he had embezzled. In September 2011, Beach Community Bank personnel contacted Colbert to determine where the money was located. Unbeknownst to Beach Community Bank, Colbert then obtained money from a third party to replace the funds he had embezzled. However, a short time after placing the third party’s money into the Beach Community Bank account, Colbert embezzled in excess of $237,000 from the same account.
In addition to defrauding the financial institutions and embezzling from Beach Community Bank, the government’s evidence also showed that in August 2011, Colbert stole approximately $36,000 from four homeowners/condominium associations that he had been entrusted to oversee.
U.S. Attorney Canova said: “This bank fraud case is a reminder that my office will vigorously prosecute financial representatives who abuse positions of trust for their own gain. This defendant held a responsibility to conduct ethical transactions, and I commend the hard work of the investigators and prosecutors who enforce our federal laws and ensure that justice is served.”
“The role of IRS Criminal Investigation becomes even more important in embezzlement and fraud cases due to the complex financial transactions that take our expertise and skill to unravel,” said Mary Hammond, Special Agent in Charge, Tampa Field Office. “Today's sentencing of Mr. Colbert is a strong reminder that those who defraud others to enrich themselves will be held accountable.”
The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.