Whatever Happened to? Sentencing nears for Naples man accused of fraud

Richard Hudec Jr.

Richard Hudec Jr.

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— It's been two months since a North Naples businessman accused of money laundering avoided a possible return to federal prison in an alleged money-laundering scheme.

But five-time federal convict Richard S. Hudec Jr., who is serving probation for tax evasion and a cover-up involving more than $150 million in federal security contracts, may hear his fate by year's end.

"The defendant has successfully delayed the day of reckoning in this matter for long enough," a federal prosecutor argued this month, calling Hudec a "serial fraudster" and asking that he serve two more years behind bars for violating his probation. "Here, he has advanced meritless and embarrassing claims that, if anything, simply highlight his persistent, desperate refusal to accept responsibility for his criminal acts."

In July, after a hearing in federal court in Maryland, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the 47-year-old pool company owner and his wife, Lisa, concealed more than $300,000, including nearly $200,000 that Richard Hudec deposited into bank accounts he opened seven months after his July 2010 prison release. The judge ruled he never disclosed numerous bank accounts and businesses he owned.

The Hudecs, whose Grey Oaks home was seized, now live in a $1.58 million home in The Vineyards.

The judge heard arguments in September, but granted Hudec's motion to hold off on sentencing. In October, the judge agreed to postpone sentencing until Hudec could provide documentation for his claims that he already paid a substantial amount of the $1.5 million he owes in restitution, fines and back taxes.

The money laundering allegations are the latest he's faced, court records show:

In 1985, when Hudec was 22, he staged the theft of his car to gain insurance proceeds and cover up an accident. While being prosecuted, he staged a burglary of his apartment for $26,000 in insurance money in 1989, providing bogus sales receipts for stolen items and forging his estranged wife's signature on an insurance check.

While on probation for those schemes, he mortgaged one house repeatedly, cheating several banks out of roughly $1 million. Then he set up a title service company and purloined a married couple's refinancing proceeds by forging their names. As a result, he was sent to prison again and faced several lawsuits and judgments involving those frauds.

Shortly after his release to serve probation in the mortgage scheme, he became chief financial officer of USProtect Corp., a security company owned by another wife.

USProtect shut down in March 2008 and went into bankruptcy after the government dropped its security contracts at federal buildings nationwide, leaving hundreds of security guards with bounced paychecks and no access to retirement accounts. Hudec was never entitled to the security contracts because he'd been convicted of fraud in four separate federal criminal cases and was the target of numerous civil judgments involving fraud.

For that, he pleaded guilty and served a 33-month prison term for tax evasion and concealing material information. He was ordered to forfeit $1.25 million, pay a $10,000 fine and $290,360 in restitution to the IRS. After his release, he began serving three years of probation in Naples.

USProtect, also known as US Protect Corp., shut down in March 2008 after the federal government dropped its security contracts at federal buildings nationwide — leaving hundreds of security guards with bounced paychecks and no access to retirement accounts.

Hudec wasn't free long before his activities in Naples attracted the feds' attention. Records show investigators began looking into his large cash purchases of pool companies in Collier and Lee counties. He ran Craigslist ads they traced to his phone number.

"We will pay cash immediately (no financing) for the routes and accounts we purchase. Please call Rich."

Records say he offered one man $500,000 for his pool company's cleaning and maintenance contracts and offered another $100,000 in cash if he completed the deal by April 12, 2012, saying he and his wife had "more than one suitcase full of cash."

Court records show federal investigators were tipped off by Iberia Bank, which noticed suspicious activities and requests to open numerous bank accounts, something its vice president said suggested "money laundering."

The large amounts of cash were going into the couple's bank accounts at a time when Hudec owed more than $1.5 million in restitution, fines and past taxes, records show.

Hudec's attorney, Brian Dickerson of Naples, has argued that Hudec has paid $225,674 in back taxes out of the $290,360 he owes the IRS, and $619,241.73 from the sale of his forfeited Grey Oaks home, which was turned over to the U.S. Marshal's Service, so he has complied with probation.

The prosecutor, however, argued the back taxes paid were from a different year and that the seizure of the Hudecs' home was separate from restitution.

"A first-year law student would know better than to submit to a court such an astonishingly frivolous claim," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sujit Raman wrote this month. "Mr. Hudec violated the terms of his supervised release. He must be punished."

Raman urged the judge to move forward with sentencing him to two years in prison, adding: "He is a serial fraudster who, even up to and through this latest filing, continues to deceive this court and brazenly flouts its supervisory authority."

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