Rock music promoter Kimball D. Richards, who was convicted in March of defrauding 14 financial institutions out of $23 million in an audio equipment leasing scheme, was sentenced Monday to 15 years in jail, followed by five years probation.
Calling Richards "the biggest liar that ever walked into my courtroom," U.S. District Judge Manuel Real also ordered the 34-year-old Santa Fe Springs man to pay an undetermined amount of restitution for his March 8 conviction on 11 counts of mail and wire fraud and four counts of bank fraud.
Richards, the son of the late state Sen. Richard Richards (D-Los Angeles), declined to comment after the sentencing. However one of his lawyers, Harland W. Braun, said during the proceedings that Richards planned to appeal the case. Braun did not indicate on what grounds his client intended to appeal.
As president of Los Angeles-based Consolidated Allied Cos. in the mid-1980s, Richards had managed to present a public image of a bright, young, politically connected wheeler-dealer with plenty of money. In a personal financial statement dated December, 1985, Richards claimed a personal net worth of more than $24 million.
But Assistant U.S. Atty. Leon Weidman said Richards earned his living through fraud. Consolidated Allied only pretended to lease audio equipment from Riviera Capital Corp., another company he controlled, so Riviera could then sell the bogus leases to banks and thrifts for collection.
Between 1985 and 1987, Richards used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included a private Lear Jet, an apartment building, a boat, a Rolls-Royce and other automobiles, according to a pre-sentencing memorandum filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
At least some of the money, prosecutors contend, also went to embellish Richards' reputation as a rock music promoter. Richards spent millions of dollars to construct state-of-the-art recording and concert facilities, prosecutors said, and he promoted rock groups.
In a short statement before his sentencing, Richards expressed no remorse for his crimes but said, "I learned an awful lot about myself; I do intend to change."
Lawyer Braun said Richards was an emotionally immature man who defrauded the financial institutions in order to get attention from his family.
"He came from a well-to-do family but he was impoverished emotionally," Braun said. "He wanted to be Kimball Richards--the rock entrepreneur . . . to impress the father who was busy with other things."