A federal grand jury convicted Nathan E. Hardwick IV of twenty-one counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of making false statements to a federally insured financial institution on October 12, 2018.
“Hardwick was motivated by unadulterated deceit and greed when he blatantly violated the trust placed in him by embezzling millions of dollars from his clients and partners,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The extravagant lifestyle that Hardwick enjoyed at the expense of others will now be traded for time in prison.”
“This case is especially troubling given the illegal actions were 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. “The magnitude of theft Hardwick is convicted of merits a lengthy sentence, one that will hopefully send a message that the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate this type of white-collar crime.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Hardwick and Asha 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, and by the end of 2010 he 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, Hardwick took more than $20 million out of the firm’s accounts.
Hardwick and Maurya conspired to cover-up the fraud and made numerous false statements to Hardwick’s law partners concerning the amount of money that Hardwick was taking out of the firm.
Hardwick and Maurya were originally indicted by a federal grand jury on February 9, 2016. The original indictment charged Hardwick and Maurya with conspiracy, wire fraud, and bank fraud. It also charged Hardwick with making false statements to a federally insured financial institution and charged Maurya with mail fraud. Maurya pled guilty to conspiracy on May 11, 2017. The grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Hardwick on December 5, 2017, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution.
Hardwick’s trial began on September 17, 2018 and was presided over by U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross. On October 12, 2018, after deliberating approximately nine hours, the jury convicted Hardwick on all counts.
Nathan E. Hardwick IV, 53, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Asha R. Maurya 43, of Atlanta, Georgia will be sentenced at a later date.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell Phillips; Doug Gilfillan, Chief of the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crime Section; and Lynsey Barron are prosecuting the case.