The former mayor of the Utah County city of Cedar Hills pleaded guilty on Monday to a federal bank fraud charge.
Eric A. Richardson, 38, resigned as Cedar Hills mayor June 25, two days before a federal charge was filed against him in U.S. District Court for Utah alleging he defrauded HeritageWest Credit Union. Richardson helped others to submit a vehicle loan application containing false information with the intention of skimming off some of the money for other uses, according to the charging document.
An information such as that filed against Richardson generally means the defendant agreed ahead of time to plead guilty, and he did so Monday in a barely audible voice when prompted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner.
Richardson and federal prosecutors also agreed he would receive a prison sentence of a year and a day, the extra day allowing him to receive a reduction of time based on good behavior. But the final amount of prison time is up to U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, who is scheduled to sentence Richardson Nov. 13. Until then he remains free.
Richardson also is required to pay restitution, but Warner called Richardson's finances "a mess" and said, "You can't get blood out of a turnip, so we'll see what comes of it."
Richardson signed a blank vehicle loan application in 2010 for $57,144.90 to purchase a 2009 Land Rover, while knowing that his partners which included 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 skimmed off the difference, the charge said.
Richardson's attorney, Rod Snow, said after the hearing that the guilty plea "was a way to put it behind him." Although Richardson takes full responsibility for his actions, Snow said, "basically he was one of those victimized by Hales."
Hales is serving a 7Â½ year federal prison sentence for his role in the frauds, and Richardson's name came up various times in Hales' case for, among other things, allegedly committing fraud in soliciting $2.3 million in investments from 38 clients for their joint company, Bentley Equities LLC.