Suspended Fort Pierce attorney Richard Brown charged with hacking into estranged wife’s e-mailJune 2nd, 2011 by TCPalm.com
By Elliott Jones
FORT PIERCE — Charges continue to be added to suspended attorney Richard Brown.
Brown, of Fort Pierce, now is charged with hacking into his estranged wife’s e-mail account in Indian River County, offenses that have raised his bail to $625,000. According to arrest reports, Brown is accused of gaining access to thousands of her e-mails, including private conversations with attorneys about the couple’s ongoing contested divorce.
The additional charges of 10 counts of unlawful interception of communications and one count of an offense against intellectual property were filed Wednesday while Brown remained at the St. Lucie County Jail. That includes an accusation that Brown used the e-mail account to illegally get money from a bank.
Brown, 44, had been jailed since May 5 under a $375,000 bail on charges of organized fraud and grand theft of more than $50,000 from four clients along the Treasure Coast since late 2010, court records show.
The charges are the latest in a series of legal and criminal difficulties embroiling the attorney, who was suspended by the Florida Bar in mid-April because of the allegations he misappropriated client money.
At the time of his arrest in early May, he was out of the Indian River County Jail on bail on two misdemeanor charges of passing worthless checks. There are still outstanding warrants from Indian River County for his arrest on charges of second-degree grand theft and criminal use of personal identification information.
Until those warrants are served, details of the charges can’t be released.
A Florida Bar audit already has concluded Brown converted at least $21,800 of one client’s money to his own personal and business purposes without approval, a court complaint affidavit states.
Court records indicate that since at least late September, Brown was in increasing financial difficulties and some clients began running into difficulties getting their money from him. According to e-mails Brown sent to the Press Journal, he blamed much of his problems on a difficult divorce.
Now he is accused of “intentionally intercepted these (his estranged wife, Natalie Brown’s) electronic communications to use the information during his litigation of the divorce proceedings against” her, according to arrest reports. Some of her the emails were with her Stuart attorney, Noel Bobko, and an attorney in New Hampshire where the couple have property, reports show.
The couple separated in October 2010. In November she found her Gmail account had been altered so that her messages were forwarded to him, reports said.
An investigator with the State Attorney’s Office got warrants to search the account and found 4,921 messages were forwarded from June to November.
Emails also were forwarded to an account of Brown’s girlfriend in Stuart, reports said. Prosecutors said she wasn’t charged because that was done for Brown’s benefit.
Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:13 a.m., updated June 2, 2011 at 12:48 p.m.