White-Collar Crime

Once-prominent lawyer gets 5 years in federal prison for stealing $2.4M from clients

A once-prominent South Carolina lawyer was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison on Wednesday for stealing $2.4 million from clients.

The defense had asked that Richard Breibart be sentenced only to the 18 months he had already served in the mail fraud case, saying that he is sick and destitute, the Associated Press and The State report.

He stole from clients to cover a “cash flow monster” created by the Lexington law firm he operated, which had 12 attorneys on its roster at one point, according to a presentence filing. The firm is no longer in business.

“Breibart showed a pattern of coercion, manipulation and deception,” said U.S. Judge Margaret Seymour during the sentencing hearing in Columbia. “It is clear each victim has been devastated by the defendant’s acts.”

He was accused by prosecutors of extorting money from some clients by falsely telling them they were under government investigation and urging them to turn over their assets to him for safekeeping.

Other now-former clients say they were overcharged by Breibart. Over 75 have filed complaints against him on this basis with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the state supreme court.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Suspended lawyer accused in claimed $1M-plus client extortion scheme takes mail-fraud plea”

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