Bruce Matson, as observed in a photograph from 2018. (BizSense file)

Capping a two-year slide from grace, veteran Richmond attorney Bruce Matson was sentenced on Monday to 44 months in federal prison linked to his theft of $4 million of individual bankruptcy have faith in cash.

The longtime individual bankruptcy trustee, who put in most of his virtually 4-decade occupation at now-collapsed LeClairRyan, was right away taken into custody by the U.S. Marshall Support.

Matson was convicted of and had pleaded guilty to obstructing an official continuing, thanks to lies he informed to federal officials as they have been digging into how dollars went missing from the personal bankruptcy estate of Henrico-primarily based title insurance coverage big LandAmerica during Matson’s time as trustee and finished up in his particular financial institution accounts.

The punishment was handed down by Judge John Gibney in entrance of dozens of onlookers, including Matson’s spouse and children, close friends and fellow church congregants.

So big was the group of supporters who showed up for Matson that the decide requested quite a few supplemental spillover courtrooms to be opened up to support space persons out and keep social distancing. They have been in a position to see the listening to via a movie feed.

Matson was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Richmond.

Matson, who wore a black match, black mask and pink tie, was flanked by his protection lawyers Brandon Santos and Richard Cullen of McGuireWoods, as perfectly as Danny Onorato from Schertler, Onorato, Mead & Sears in D.C.

The 64-calendar year-old, who has previously been disbarred, was at occasions tearful as the decide read from Matson’s wife and daughter, as nicely the prosecution and protection, as the two sides made a person remaining effort and hard work to sway Gibney one particular way or the other.

Gibney explained he was moved by the dozens of letters sent to the court docket from Matson supporters main up to the sentencing. They described an normally virtuous person who, whilst remaining a devoted partner, father, mentor and churchgoer, inexplicably and uncharacteristically went astray.

“I study all those letters, which expose a diverse side of Mr. Matson,” Gibney mentioned.

But, Gibney later on extra, “Here’s a little something I have discovered in 11 many years on the bench: Most people has two sides. I’m always astounded.”

The choose spent a considerable total of time querying attorneys from the two sides and pondering himself why Matson stole the income in the initially place. Why, soon after evidently 40 yrs of a thriving legislation profession, did he pocket the income but not expend it?

The funds was all accounted for when Matson’s theft was introduced to light in 2019, and it seemingly was not employed to fund an exorbitantly lavish life-style. It sat untouched in his accounts.

“That’s what is head-boggling to me,” Gibney reported. “Mr. Matson has more than enough belongings that he could have stopped practicing legislation five yrs in the past. The quantity he took is not adequate to make him find the money for an island in the Carribean.

“On top of all that, he was just a phenomenal personal bankruptcy lawyer. He could have gotten a career with any firm in city. What he did here is not rational in any perception. Why choose the dollars for it to just sit there?”

Assistant U.S. Legal professional Thomas Garnett tried to reply Gibney’s questions.

“It was fraud for fraud’s sake,” Garnett said, incorporating that Matson’s plan played out about a period of time from 2015 to 2019 and associated calculated methods this sort of as placing up pretend financial institution accounts and manipulating the remaining LandAmerica believe in price range to make it less difficult for him to manipulate money.

Gibney, in section citing a psychological analysis of Matson that was completed leading up to sentencing, described it as a sort-of safety blanket in the deal with of experienced and own turmoil. That integrated familial obligations and the drawn-out demise of LeClairRyan, wherever Matson was main authorized officer in its later on several years.

“He did not shell out the money he had it there, I guess, in scenario he required it,” Gibney claimed.

Matson then tackled the courtroom, emphasizing his regrets and his want to serve his punishment and reenter culture as a effective citizen.

“I can not categorical how deeply sorry I am for the carry out that brings us below right now,” Matson claimed. “I’ve dissatisfied so numerous people.”

He apologized to the Virginia State Bar, to the individual bankruptcy court and to his family.

“I’ve misplaced a large amount as a end result of these actions,” he mentioned.

LeClairRyan’s Richmond office environment padlocked as it collapsed .

Matson’s authorized difficulties largely commenced in August 2019, when it was introduced to the individual bankruptcy court’s consideration that LandAmerica’s $2.8 million wind-down fund had been emptied. People money were not to be disbursed until finally the wind-down period came to a close in 2021.

Matson had overseen the complex LandAmerica situation from the time of the company’s collapse in 2008 right up until its seemingly effective summary in 2015.

The missing income was discovered mainly thanks to LeClairRyan’s collapse. It was for the duration of the longtime regulation firm’s personal bankruptcy proceedings, which are however ongoing, that the very same economic organization that experienced labored the LandAmerica case was combing by means of LeClairRyan’s financials and discovered a discrepancy.

Matson, though featuring many excuses when originally confronted, ultimately admitted that the funds were being transferred to his and an associate’s accounts, just before returning them. Matson was then eliminated as LandAmerica’s trustee, regardless of his objections, and then conceded to staying disbarred by the Virginia Point out Bar in November 2020.

He was charged and pleaded guilty in July, when it was discovered that his fraud went again further more than very first recognized and carried in excess of into yet another bankruptcy scenario on which he experienced served as trustee.

The U.S. Attorney’s Workplace and Matson’s camp negotiated a plea offer in light-weight of him cooperating with the investigation, returning all the revenue, accepting duty and his deficiency of a prior legal record.

His single count of obstruction carried a greatest sentence of 5 several years. Prosecutors had asked for at the very least 47 months, even though Matson and his attorneys requested for no a lot more than 37 months.

In addition to the 44-month sentence, Matson was requested to pay back a $10,000 fantastic and three decades of supervised release after his time in prison.

The judge mentioned he would recommend Matson provide his time in FCI Cumberland, a federal penitentiary with a reduced stability camp in Allegany County, Maryland.

Matson’s also barred from becoming utilized as a fiduciary or handling the money of other folks.