A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced former Cedar Hills Mayor Eric Richardson to a year and a day in prison on his guilty plea for taking part in what federal agents say was a group of people who committed numerous alleged mortgage and bank frauds.
U.S. District Judge David Nuffer turned down a request from Richardson’s attorney that he receive one month in a county jail and also said Richardson should be accountable to repay no more than the $10,000 he received for lending his name for use on a falsified loan application.
“But for Mr. Richardson there would have been no transaction,” said the judge, who also made Richardson liable for up to $110,000 in restitution.
Nuffer said he realized Richardson would lose his current job because of the sentence but said that was part of the punishment.
Richardson resigned as mayor of the Utah County city of Cedar Hills on June 25, two days before a federal charge was filed against him alleging he defrauded HeritageWest Credit Union of $330,000. Richardson helped others submit a vehicle loan application containing false information with the intention of skimming off some of the money for themselves, according to the charging document.
In a halting voice, Richardson told Nuffer he apologized for his actions, especially to his wife and children, and that he should have listened to his wife, who told him not to get involved in the loan deals.
“I thought I was a smart businessman who knew something better than my very humble housewife,” he said. “I had no business excluding her.”
He also lamented that because of his actions his children now “fear the knock on the door.”
Richardson could receive a reduction of the time he serves based on good behavior because his sentence is for more than one year.
Richardson signed a blank vehicle loan application in 2010 for $57,144.90 to buy a 2009 Land Rover, while knowing that his partners — who include convicted scammer Christopher D. Hales — would use it to falsely claim he was earning $15,000 a month from a company with which he no longer was associated. The actual sales price was less than the loan, and Richardson and the others distributed the difference among themselves, the charge against Richardson said.
Hales also is serving a federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to bank fraud. Hales was the ringleader of a network of people who got together to plan and carry out various frauds involving mortgages and other bank loans, federal agents testified.
Richardson’s attorney, Rod Snow, said he had been told others would be charged in the case and that Richardson had agreed to testify against them.
Richardson is to report for prison on Jan. 7.