Breaking Real Estate News: Nathan Hardwick of Morris | Hardwick | Schneider, a prominent real estate closing firm, has been accused of embezzling over $30 million.
Once a managing partner of the high-profile Atlanta law firm, Nathan E. Hardwick IV has just been accused of appropriating more than $30 million from escrow and other collateral accounts. A law suit has been filed within the Fulton County Superior Court, and Fidelity National Title Group (FNTG) acted quickly to become majority owner of Landcastle Title LLC, an affiliate company of Morris Hardwick Schneider (MHS).
Fidelity National stepped in once they "learned of substantial escrow account misappropriations" within MHS. Afraid that the scandal would "negatively impact" the stability and brand of Landcastle Title, FNTG became majority owner in order to protect both customers and employees. In a letter released by Mark Wittstadt, another managing partner of MHS, the acquisition was described as "the best way to protect your funds, your transactions, our mutual customers, MHS and Landcastle's employees, and the goodwill of the mortgage and title insurance industries". It is important to note that MHS also funded the shortage found within their accounts and the accounts of Landcastle Title.
While the firm reacted instantly and attempted to atone for the missing funds to separate themselves from the scandal surrounding Nathan Hardwick, there are still those who stand by him. Ed Garland, Nathan Hardwick's attorney, has stated that Nathan himself found the missing funds. "Nat become aware of a problem with the accounting earlier this summer and immediately alerted his partners and initiated a review by outside auditors" said Garland. Furthermore, Garland contests that "the law firm was profitable, and Nat believed that all of the money he received was properly distributed to him as his share of the profits of the firm".
The lawsuit states that Hardwick created counterfeit bank records and altered internal accounting records in order to mask millions of dollars of shortages. Furthermore, over $6 million in funds was found to be directed to Divot Holdings LLC, a company which is entirely owned by Hardwick.
So how did he use the funds? According to the lawsuit, Hardwick spent the money on funding an extravagant "rock star" lifestyle which included private jets and a luxury Buckhead condo, and he also wired millions to Las Vegas casinos to cover ever-growing gambling debts.
With over $30 million missing, the burning question on everyone's mind is how MHS could have lost so much money? Dealing with fraud is a daunting issue in our industry, and it is important that you do your due diligence to protect your money and your investments.
The Atlanta Homes Team will continue to watch the story as it develops.