Lawyer’s Clients Bilked for $1M, Prosecutors Say

     COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) – A prominent attorney was indicted for allegedly ripping off clients by telling them they faced criminal charges that did not actually exist.
     Richard Breibart practiced law in Lexington County, S.C., for nearly 33 years before the state Supreme Court suspended his licensed in June 2012.
     Prosecutors say Breibart told clients that they were under criminal investigation and advised them to put money in his trust account for protection.
     Breibart would then simply take the money to cover his own personal and business expenses, according to the indictment filed Wednesday.
     Clients lost between $50,000 and $500,000 apiece, amounting to $1.1 million in loot for Breibart, prosecutors say.
     Breibart faces five counts of extortion under the Hobbs Act, four counts of mail fraud, and one count of wire transmission in furtherance of a scheme. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison on each count.
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Shiva Hodges set a $100,000 bond at the attorney’s initial federal court appearance.
     When it suspended his license, the state Supreme Court also ordered appointment of a trustee charged with prohibiting Breibart from accessing any of his office’s accounts.

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