Collection, Foreclosure Attorney Convicted of Embezzling $26 Million

The former managing partner of a Georgia law firm that specialized in mortgage foreclosures and debt collection has been found guilty of embezzling more than $26 million from the now-bankrupt firm and is facing up to 15 years in prison.

Nathan E. Hardwick IV used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included parties on private islands and taking friends to golf tournaments in Europe on private jets, according to prosectors. Hardwick claimed he did not know he was not entitled to the money, testifying that he thought it was operating funds from the firm that his other partners at Morris Hardwick Schneider were receiving as well. The firm’s accountant, Asha Maurya, was charged in 2016 with stealing more than $900,000 from the firm and has plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Hardwick took the stand during his 12-day trial, spending more than a day testifying that the fraud was all Maurya’s fault and that he had no knowledge of the theft.

A jury convicted Hardwick of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, multiple counts of wire fraud, and making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution. About $6 million of the funds were wired to casinos across the country, according to prosecutors. Another $635,000 was spent on a private jet to take friends to the British Open golf tournament in 2014, and $186,000 was used as a deposit for a party on a private island.

Hardwick said during his testimony that he was the face of the firm with plans to establish offices in all 50 states and eventually go public. At one point, the firm employed more than 800 lawyers in 16 states. He claimed he did not know the funds were coming from the firm’s escrow accounts.

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