Atlanta real estate attorney receives 15-year sentence for defrauding his law firm out of millions of dollars
ATLANTA –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.
This case was investigated by the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell Phillips, Lynsey Barron, Kelly Connors, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Gilfillan prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.