ATLANTA ATTORNEY PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING CLIENT FUNDS
Nearly $300K Diverted to Personal Accounts
October 24, 2013
Atlanta- Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. announces the conviction by guilty plea of an Atlanta attorney accused of theft. During court proceedings Thursday, 38-year-old Kristen E. Richbourg pled guilty as indicted to three counts of Theft by Taking by Fiduciary and two counts of Forgery in the 1st Degree in connection with the theft of nearly $300, 000.00 in client funds.
In January 2011, Richbourg’s client entrusted her with $535,000.00 that he intended to be managed in a variety of ways to lessen his tax burden. Richbourg was instructed to deposit the money into a trust fund, a savings account and two certificates of deposit. The victim, in turn, was to receive quarterly draws on the funds and to be kept apprised of the balances. Richbourg deposited the money as instructed but also diverted upwards of $315, 000.000 into several of her personal and business accounts without her client’s knowledge. She continued to forward the client his quarterly draws in a timely fashion in an effort to mask the fraud.
The scheme began to unravel in January 2013 when the client began to ask for an accounting of his funds. The defendant became evasive and repeatedly delayed complying with her client’s request. She finally provided copies of bank statements showing a phony balance on an account that had in reality been closed. The victim eventually reported Defendant Richbourg to police. The case was indicted by a Fulton County Grand Jury on Tuesday, October 22, 2013.
Following her guilty plea, Fulton County Magistrate Judge Richard Hicks sentenced Richbourg to 15 years to serve four years with the balance on probation. Richbourg was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $289,045.12 to the victim. She was also ordered to surrender her law license and submit to random drug testing and counseling. She may not apply for readmission to the Bar.
The case was prosecuted by Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney Brad Malkin, Director of the White Collar Crime Unit. Sergeant P. Cooper and Detective D.M. Ricks of the Atlanta Police Department’s Major Fraud Unit led the initial investigation.