Aug. 16--A Plantation lawyer is accused of grand theft because he stole $200,000 by forming a copying and courier service and fraudulently charged an insurance company for work that was never done, according to the Broward State Attorney's Office.
According to a criminal complaint, Richard Nelson, 52, was the managing attorney of GEICO's Broward office in Plantation from August 2007 to June 2012. In 2009, he and his wife set up a company called Simple Services, which operated out of Nelson's Pembroke Pines home. Later, another company named Quick Ship was established, replacing Simple Services and again operating out of Nelson's home.
Nelson allegedly established GEICO as the first client of Simple Services and later Quick Ship, directing his employees at GEICO to use those businesses for all their copying and courier needs. Over a three-year period, GEICO paid 1,600 invoices to the copying companies, though an investigation later found that no documents were ever actually copied or delivered, according to the complaint.
"It was extremely rare for any attorney or member of the support staff to ever request copies of documents in court files, as documents were always readily available from either the GEICO adjuster assigned to a case or from the office of plaintiff's counsel," the complaint states.
Also charged in the case were Nelson's sons, Daniel, 25, and Sean, 23, who were the only employees of Simple Services and Quick Ship and the beneficiaries of all the payments, more than $200,000, according to the complaint.
All three were charged with organized fraud and grand theft, each carrying a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
Richard Nelson's attorney, Ken Padowitz, said, "My client maintains his innocence and we intend to clear his name in court." Padowitz said Nelson's two sons "are also maintaining their innocence and also believe that their names will be cleared."
Richard Nelson is charged separately with another grand theft charge for allegedly billing GEICO$10,850 for premium access subscriptions to the Broward Clerk of Courts, even though the subscriptions only cost $4,200.
The charges against the Nelsons were filed Aug. 9. Richard and Daniel Nelson surrendered earlier this week and are free on bond. Officials say Sean Nelson is in the military and is expected to surrender at a later date.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.
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