by Don Ledford
A certified public accountant in Lebanon, Missouri, was convicted by a federal jury today of a $7 million scheme to defraud his employer and clients.
Douglas A. Richardson, 46, was found guilty of all 10 counts contained in an Aug. 16, 2018, federal indictment. Richardson was found guilty of six counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering.
Richardson, a certified public accountant, owned his own company, Douglas A. Richardson, CPA, LLC, since Feb. 2009. He was the former chief financial officer, treasurer, and CPA of Smart Prong Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Dec. 2013, to June 2016. Smart Prong developed technology, and manufactured devices for charging cell phones.
Richardson engaged in a scheme to defraud Smart Prong and several of the clients of his CPA firm from February 2014 to October 2016.
Richardson transferred at least $4.4 million from Smart Prong bank accounts into his personal and business bank accounts. Richardson also solicited loans from several clients and induced them to make investments. Richardson made representations to these clients that he knew were false, in that he told them their loans and investments would be used for a certain purpose. In reality, Richardson used at least part of the money for his personal benefit, and to pay other individuals (including prior investors and others to whom he owed money).
For example, Richardson solicited one of his clients to participate in a promissory note program through which the client could earn money from interest on loans he and Richardson would enter into for the purpose of investments. Richardson claimed the loans would be used to provide funding for a real estate deal and an automobile dealership. The client loaned Richardson $365,000 from his business, which Richardson used to repay $230,000 to another individual for unrelated loans, to pay $72,704 to pay off a Chevrolet Corvette, and to issue a $7,500 check to himself.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for approximately five hours before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, ending a trial that began Monday, Nov. 4.
Under federal statutes, Richardson is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole for each of the wire fraud convictions and a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole for each of the money laundering convictions. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.