Former title company chief faces 15 years in prison for multimillion-dollar scam

by Ryan Smith13 Feb 2019

The former CEO of LandCastle Title, who also served as the managing partner of a real estate law firm, will spend 15 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to bilk his firm out of millions of dollars.

Nathan E. Hardwick IV, 53, ran both LandCastle Title and Morris Hardwick Schneider, a law firm that specialized in residential real estate closings and foreclosures. He was convicted in October of wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution.

Morris Hardwick Schneider and LandCastle Title (collectively MHS) were both subsidiaries of a company called MHSLAW. MHS employed about 800 people in 16 states. In 2007, Hardwick and his partners sold part of the business. Hardwick pocketed about $11.8 million in the deal. Hardwick blew through that money quickly, however, and by 2010 was broke and deeply in debt.

Hardwick, together with co-conspirator Asha Maurya, who managed the companies’ operations, concocted a scheme to steal from the companies, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. Between 2011 and 2014, Hardwick siphoned off more than $26 million from the companies accounts. More than $19 million of that was client money stolen from attorney trust accounts. Hardwick spent about $18.5 million of the stolen money on gambling, private jets, and more than 50 “social companions,” according to the US Attorney’s Office.

“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 US Attorney Byung J. 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 the FBI in 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.”

In addition to his prison term, Hardwick was ordered to forfeit more than $19.9 million in criminal proceeds, pay a $2,300 special assessment, and pay restitution to his victims. He will also be required to serve six years of supervised release.