Indian American charged in embezzlement & conspiracy of 20 million dollar fraud

NEW YORK: A 40-year-old Indian-origin law firm executive in the US has been charged with conspiring in a 20 million dollar embezzlement case and stealing approximately USD 900,000 from the firm’s accounts to pay her own personal expenses.

Asha Maurya along with Nathan Hardwick, 50, has been charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and related crimes in connection with Hardwick’s alleged theft of over USD 20 million from the attorney escrow accounts and operating accounts of Morris Hardwick Schneider and LandCastle Title (MHS), an Atlanta-based law firm and title agency in which Hardwick and Maurya once served as top executives.

In addition to charges against Maurya for assisting with Hardwick’s theft, the indictment also charges Maurya with stealing approximately USD 900,000 from the firm’s accounts to pay her own personal expenses.

According to the indictment, Maurya was an accounting department employee of the firm from April 2009 until her termination in November 2014.

Maurya was hired to be MHS’s Escrow Account Controller and was eventually promoted to the position of Chief Financial Officer of MHS’s closing division. She managed MHS’s attorney escrow account operations and other accounting operations under Hardwick’s supervision.

In 2011, Hardwick allegedly began directing Maurya to make millions of dollars in shareholder distributions, bonuses, and other payments for Hardwick’s benefit, directly out of the firm’s bank accounts, in amounts that exceeded the share of MHS’s profits to which Hardwick was entitled.

Hardwick and Maurya allegedly caused millions of dollars to be wire transferred to and for Hardwick’s benefit out of MHS’s attorney escrow accounts.

They fraudulently concealed Hardwick’s excess payments from the other MHS shareholders, MHS employees, outside auditors, title insurance underwriters, and others through false statements, half-truths, and by the omission of material facts, and by distributing false and misleading financial information and records.

Before the other MHS shareholders and employees knew the full extent of the scheme, Hardwick also allegedly tried to conceal the amount of his illicit payments and the severity of the resulting escrow account shortages by lying to obtain and to attempt to obtain loans from various individuals and entities to repay part of the money that he had stolen.

The indictment also charges Hardwick with lying to obtain over USD 3.5 million in loans from federally-insured banks in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

In addition to charges against Maurya for her assistance with Hardwick’s alleged theft of over USD 20 million, the indictment charges Maurya separately with a scheme to defraud MHS by tricking MHS into issuing checks to pay off her personal credit card bills.

Maurya is alleged to have diverted over USD 900,000 from MHS’s attorney escrow accounts and operating accounts to pay off her credit card bills and home mortgages.

The indictment charges Hardwick and Maurya with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 18 counts of wire fraud. It charges Hardwick with one count of bank fraud and three counts of making false statements to federally-insured financial institutions.

The indictment charges Maurya with 11 counts of mail fraud. The conspiracy, wire fraud, and mail fraud charges against Hardwick and Maurya each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to USD 250,000 per count.

The bank fraud and false statements charges against Hardwick each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to USD 1 million per count.

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