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Ex-lawyer gets prison for scams, ID theft.

Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

A Eugene attorney who pleaded guilty in October to identity theft and bank fraud was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in federal prison.

Richard Warren "Whitey" Clark also must pay nearly $435,000 in restitution and undergo five years of supervision following his jail time for defrauding clients, banks and his mother-in-law.

During sentencing, Clark offered a brief apology to those he harmed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Cardani said after the session. Clark's wife also spoke briefly, declaring him a good husband and father and saying her mother had forgiven him, Cardani said.

According to a summary prepared by the U.S. attorney's office, Clark's problems apparently became acute in 1998 as his law firm, at 19th Avenue and Willamette Street, failed to generate enough revenue to cover Clark's personal and professional costs.

To secure money to cover his debts, Clark borrowed $231,000 from one wealthy client, saying he would lend the money out to five other clients in need of funds. Instead, he kept the money, while making interest-only payments to satisfy the original lender.

When Clark stopped making those payments in July 2002, the original lender contacted the supposed borrowers, who knew nothing about either the loans or the expected repayments.

Clark carried out a similar fraud on his mother-in-law the same year, borrowing $51,000 from her, ostensibly to lend to a client. Instead, he kept the money and made interest-only payments to his mother-in-law until September 2002.

He also obtained power-of-attorney over his mother-in-law's financial affairs after her husband died in 1998 and wrote checks for $20,000 to his law practice from her investment account. She revoked the power-of-attorney in 2001 after discovering what he had done.

Several area banks also were Clark's victims, when he provided false financial statements and tax returns to them for processing loan and credit card applications. He later defaulted on those debts. He secured $66,000 from Key Bank, $25,000 from Wells Fargo Bank, $15,000 from Pacific Continental Bank, $10,000 from Bank of America, and $19,000 from US Bank.

Law enforcement officers began investigating Clark in June 2002. He closed his law practice and resigned from the profession in December that year.

Judge Michael Hogan on Tuesday ordered Clark to report to prison on June 14. Although the federal criminal justice system has no provisions for parole, Clark could shave about two months from his sentence for good behavior, Cardani said.

Clark cannot avoid restitution payments by declaring bankruptcy, Cardani said.

During the five years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, the federal government "will collect as much as it can," Cardani said.

"The federal government has an aggressive system for pursuing (restitution) for up to 20 years," he said.

Even though he committed a white-collar crime, Clark "has a lot of victims out there that he's hurt badly," Cardani said. "Most people stick a gun in someone's face, get caught and go away for a long time. He had a pen instead of a gun - and he got away with it for a long time."
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Title Annotation:Crime; The Eugene man given 21 months for bilking clients, banks and his mother-in-law
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 18, 2004
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