Attorney who extorted $1 million from clients gets 63 months in prison

Richard Breibart (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Richard Breibart (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A disgraced Lexington attorney who pleaded guilty to extorting $1 million from clients received the maximum sentence Wednesday in federal court.

Richard Breibart, 63, was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $2.4 million in restitution after pleading guilty to mail fraud in 2013. 

Before the hearing took place, his attorney asked the judge for leniency. Breibart faced up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, but prosecutors agreed to recommend a lower sentence.

In court, Breibart told the victims, his family and the people of South Carolina that he was sorry.

He will serve his sentence at a minimum security camp in Edgefield County, which is close to his family.

Breibart was charged with ten counts including extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud after clients claim he threatened them with criminal charges or non-existent civil penalties.

In documents filed in federal court last week, Breibart's attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Allen Burnside, says his client is in "very poor health" and suffers from the effects of brain injuries, coronary artery disease, obstructive sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He requested a lowered sentence based on Breibart's lack of criminal history.

The document also attempts to explain Breibart's financial situation.

"His practice was a cash flow monster," it read. "Breibart needed to clear well over $100,000.00 per month just to make payroll on his employees. In total the firm needed to clear $300,000 per month before Breibart could get paid."

"Breibart is completely destitute now," reads the document. "He has lost his business, his home and all of his personal property. The Probation Office has determined that he has liens and judgements totaling well over a million dollars...It all came crashing down as his health failed in May of 2012."

"The defendant is very ill and has substantial need of medical care," Burnside submitted. "It simply makes no sense to provide that care within the Federal Bureau of Prisons...The defendant and society would be better served by a sentenced of time served, followed by a term of supervised release with a special condition of at least a year of home confinement."

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