Former Gulf Breeze attorney gets prison time, $3.7 million fine in embezzlement case

Article Courtesy of The Pensacola News Journal

Published September 14, 2017  


A former Gulf Breeze attorney has been sentenced to more than three years in prison and ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution for fraud and embezzlement.

Richard Michael Colbert, 56, of Pensacola Beach was sentenced Friday for conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud, making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution, nine counts of money laundering and two counts of theft, embezzlement or misapplication by a person connected with a financial institution.

Colbert was working as a title attorney in 2007 when he signed and submitted a false HUD-1 to the now defunct Gulf South Private Bank in order for one of his business partners to obtain a million-dollar loan from the bank.

The bank ultimately lost more than $600,000 as a result of the fraudulent contract, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Then, in 2010, Colbert again facilitated a fraud conspiracy by handling a number of closings that defrauded Bank of America, Beach Community Bank and the now defunct Premier Community Bank. The total loss from all three banks exceeded $2.3 million.

Colbert also embezzled and misapplied more than $400,000 being held at Beach Community Bank and conducted a series of financial transactions laundering the funds.

The U.S. Attorney's Office release details a series of transactions Colbert completed over a period of years, including defrauding homeowners associations he had been trusted to oversee.

Colbert was sentenced Friday to three years and four months in prison and was ordered to pay back more than $3.7 million to the different institutions.