White-Collar Crime

Suspended SC Lawyer Indicted, Accused of Extorting $1.1M from Clients for Law Firm, Self

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A prominent South Carolina lawyer recently suspended from practice has been federally indicted on extortion and mail fraud charges.

Richard J. Breibart is accused of bilking clients of $1.1 million. He allegedly pressured them to give him the contents of their bank and retirement accounts by telling them they or their relatives faced lawsuits or tax or criminal penalties if they didn’t ante up for him to represent them. Then, the indictment says, Breibart took the money from his law firm trust account and spent it on business and personal expenses, according to the Charlotte Observer and WLTX.

“There were never any civil actions or criminal investigations regarding the claims that Richard J. Breibart made to the clients,” says the indictment (PDF), to which Courthouse News provides a liink.

Breibart was arrested Wednesday afternoon, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Columbia and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. He is being represented by a public defender.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Law Firm Suddenly Closes, Leaving 10 Lawyers Jobless and Two Clients Claiming Losses”

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