Prison-bound ex-Cedar Hills mayor says he should have heeded wife

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 5:36 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Cedar Hills Mayor Eric A. Richardson shared a long, tearful embrace with his wife after a federal judge sentenced him to prison for bank fraud Tuesday.

"The crazy thing is if I'd have listened to her, I wouldn't be standing here today," he told U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer moments earlier.

Richardson, 38, said he didn't heed the advice of a "dear, sweet, humble housewife" because he thought of himself as the businessman in the house. He ended up falsifying a loan application as part of an equity skimming scheme.

"I am guilty, and that guilt is searing," he told the judge. "I am responsible for the harm I have done."

Nuffer ordered Richardson to spend 12 months and one day in prison followed by 36 months probation. The additional day allows him the opportunity to be released early for good behavior. He is scheduled to report to prison Jan. 7.

Richardson pleaded guilty to one count of felony bank fraud in July with the understanding that federal prosecutors would recommend he spend a year and a day in prison and pay $330,000 in restitution.

Despite the agreement, Richardson's attorney Rodney Snow argued for 30 days in a county jail, 11 months of home confinement and $10,000 in restitution, the amount Richardson made in the transaction. He said Richardson has a good job that he would lose if sent to prison.

"Your attorney has done a terrific job for you, but I'm going to hold you to the plea agreement," Nuffer told Richardson. "I think losing this job, if that happens, is part of the punishment."

The judge, however, did reduce the restitution to $110,000.

Snow earlier described Richardson as a "fallout victim" of former business partner Christopher Hales, who's serving a 90-month prison sentence for masterminding a financial scam that took individuals and lending institutions for $12.7 million.

The former mayor signed a blank loan application in February 2010 with HeritageWest Credit Union for $57,144 for a 2009 Land Rover, knowing that an accomplice would falsely inflate his salary and represent him as an area manager with Bentley Equities, according to a plea agreement. He had previously disassociated himself from Bentley and never received a salary.

Richardson also failed to disclose a $168,000 mortgage on a rental property and two car loans totaling $80,000 from different banks obtained two weeks prior.

Richardson said he always wanted to be a good husband and father but instead provided his family a template for what not to do. He said he hopes they can learn from his mistakes.

"I lost my way," he told the court. "You can't fall out of bed if you're not sleeping on the edge."

Richardson resigned as mayor in June without explanation. Federal prosecutors charged him with bank fraud three days later. He had served as mayor since 2010 and on the City Council before that.

During his tenure as mayor, Richardson was under fire from a group of Cedar Hills residents who campaigned for his removal from office, claiming he improperly moved recreation funds to the city's golf course to make it appear profitable, among other complaints.

An FBI investigation did not lead to public corruption charges.

Hales and Richardson formed Bentley Equities in April 2009. It currently is in default for failing to pay its annual franchise tax fees. Neither were registered with the commodity futures commission, which enforces the Commodity Exchange Act. Commodity futures are agreements to buy or sell a commodity at a specific date in the future at a specific price.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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