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Georgia law firm sues Cosmopolitan over $3.4 million in transferred funds

A Georgia law firm says the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas owes it $3.4 million — money a partner improperly transferred from the firm’s accounts in 2012 for gambling there.

The firm, Morris Schneider Wittstadt, recently made the allegation in a federal lawsuit filed in Las Vegas, saying the high-end Strip hotel and casino should have known better than to accept the money on deposit.

“All of the wire transfers from the firm’s accounts to the Cosmopolitan contained information that put the Cosmopolitan on notice of the improper nature of the wire transfers and the fact that the Cosmopolitan was not entitled to accept or retain the transferred funds,” the complaint alleges.

The Cosmopolitan declined comment on the lawsuit Tuesday. Attorneys with the Las Vegas law firm Kolesar & Leatham are representing the Georgia law firm, which has offices in several states and is based in Atlanta.

According to the complaint, the Cosmopolitan solicited Nathan Hardwick IV to establish a casino account for his use in 2012.

Hardwick was a partner at Morris Schneider Wittstadt and directly oversaw the firm’s corporate accounting, as well as financial management and accounting matters for the real estate closing practice, according to the document.

In court papers, the Georgia firm said Hardwick caused at least 12 wire transfers to be made from the firm’s accounts to the Cosmopolitan, starting on June 29, 2012. The lawsuit claims Hardwick misappropriated money from the firm’s trust accounts and other bank accounts.

“Despite having knowledge of the improper nature of the wire transfers from the firm’s accounts, the Cosmopolitan allowed Hardwick to withdraw some of the funds from his Cosmopolitan account for his personal use and benefit, thus aiding Hardwick in his scheme to defraud the firm,” according to the lawsuit.

The Cosmopolitan was unjustly enriched when it kept the money and has refused formal requests to return it, according to the document. It’s unclear what, if any, money Hardwick may still have on deposit at the Cosmopolitan.

Hardwick had a fiduciary relationship with the firm, according to the lawsuit, which accuses the Cosmopolitan of aiding and abetting Hardwick’s breach of that duty.

The Daily Report, a legal news publication in Georgia, reported in January that the firm and its title insurance subsidiary, LandCastle Title, have accused Hardwick in a separate lawsuit of misappropriating $22 million.

Hardwick responded with a court filing in which he denied having oversight of the firm’s financial accounts, according to the publication, and instead accused people in the firm’s accounting department of misappropriating the money.

Contacted Tuesday, Hardwick declined comment. One of his Georgia attorneys, Matthew Daley, in an email said Hardwick is surprised by the firm’s allegations against the Cosmopolitan.

“He holds the Cosmopolitan in the highest regard and has always been treated professionally in all his dealings with the casino,” Daley wrote. “Nat believed that any money sent to the Cosmopolitan from the firm on his behalf was money that he was entitled to as compensation from the firm, and if any of that money came from an escrow account, he had no knowledge of that fact. Regarding the allegations in the firm’s suit against Nat, Nat denies that he engaged in any wrongdoing and looks forward to clearing his name.”

According to the State Bar of Georgia website, Hardwick was admitted to practice law there in 1991 and remains in good standing.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer

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