Another Attorney Bagged In Middle Of Alleged Real Estate Ripoff; Pensacola Feds Say Suspected Handiwork Includes Possible Embezzlement Of Money Held While Acting As Fiduciary, Then Laundering The Loot
- Richard Michael Colbert, 54, of Pensacola Beach, was charged by a federal grand jury with 15 felony counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and/or mail fraud affecting a financial institution, four counts of false statement to a federally insured financial institution, one count of theft, embezzlement or misapplication by a person connected with a financial institution, and nine counts of money laundering. The indictment, [...] was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The indictment alleges that Colbert, while the manager of Beach Title Services, a subsidiary of Beach Community Bank, participated in a scheme to defraud and obtain money and/or property by fraudulent means from federally insured financial institutions. As a part of the scheme, Colbert allegedly signed and submitted false settlement statements to Bank of America and Beach Community Bank. The indictment also alleges that Colbert signed and submitted a false settlement statement to the now defunct GulfSouth Private Bank, so former builder Lawrence Wright could obtain a loan.
The indictment further alleges that Colbert, while acting as an escrow agent for Beach Community Bank, embezzled and misapplied funds being held at Beach Community Bank
.(1)Thereafter, Colbert allegedly conducted a series of financial transactions thereby laundering the embezzled funds.
See also: Northwest Florida Daily News: Financial scheme leads to another indictment:
- Gulf Breeze attorney Richard Michael Colbert became the third local man charged by federal authorities for his alleged involvement in a real estate scheme to steal from local banks.
Michael “Sean” Davis, the former president of Crestview’s Premier Community Bank of the Emerald Coast, pleaded guilty in March to a handful of crimes he committed as part of the same scheme. Davis is scheduled for sentencing July 20.
Lawrence Allen Wright of Niceville was also tied to the scam, which ran from 2006 until 2011, court records say. Wright is serving a 75-month prison sentence for fraud and theft of his ex-wife’s identity.
Colbert “was not and never was a bank employee or officer,” wrote Beach Community Bank President Tony Hughes in an email. “We uncovered his alleged embezzlement in October 2011,” Hughes wrote. “We immediately terminated him, notified law enforcement, and closed down the title company. We have been cooperating with the criminal investigation ever since.” Hughes added he wouldn’t be surprised to see more indictments in the case.
(1) If the alleged ripoff, if proved, resulted from a direct and current lawyer-client relationship with the bank, the Florida Bar's Clients' Security Fund may make some reimbursment as a result of the loss suffered due to the misappropriation or embezzlement.
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (now includes Canadian recovery funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.