Atlanta lawyer ordered to repay $40M after embezzlement

Before he went to federal prison last year for embezzling millions, Atlanta lawyer Nat Hardwick testified about how good a guy he was. Among the evidence he cited was his accessibility, how he’d always return clients’ messages quickly even as he was busy building an empire of a law firm.

Hardwick is now serving 15 years in a low security federal prison in Kentucky, but he’s still prompt.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor Ross ordered him to pay $40 million in restitution. Before the day’s end, his attorney filed a motion to challenge the judge’s order.

Kristen Navoy wrote in the motion that the evidence didn’t support such a large sum. Part of her objection was that some of the victims claimed Hardwick’s actions had harmed their reputations, which is difficult to put a dollar amount on.

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Hardwick, 53, formerly of Dunwoody, used to dream of growing Morris Hardwick Schneider into one of the top real estate law firms in America. He wanted offices in 50 states. He made a dent, with outposts in 16 states, before it all fell apart when allegations emerged that he’d been taking money from company accounts, the firm filed for bankruptcy, and his law license was suspended in 2016 by the Georgia Supreme Court.

The feds then went after him for defrauding the firm of millions to fund his gambling habit and want for a luxurious existence.

This past October, the jury convicted Hardwick of conspiring to commit wire fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud and making a false statement to federally insured financial institution.

The judge’s order said Hardwick must pay $23.3 million for Fidelity Bank and another $17 million to individuals.

No ruling has been made on Hardwick’s objection to the restitution order.

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