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Ex LeClairRyan General Counsel Charged By Virginia Prosecutors

July 15, 2021, 11:00 PM

Former general counsel of the now defunct LeClairRyan, Bruce Howard Matson, who was disbarred last year for misdirecting funds in a bankruptcy case, has been criminally charged by federal prosecutors in Virginia.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond charged Matson with one count of obstruction. The charge stems from Matson’s role as liquidation trustee for LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc., one of the largest title insurance companies in the U.S., which filed for Chapter 11 in November 2008.

At the time he served as LandAmerica trustee, Matson was associated with LeClairRyan, which itself filed for Chapter 11 in September 2019 shortly after its partners voted to dissolve the firm. LeClairRyan has faced legal issues even since its demise, including a suit that alleged that its leaders allowed a business partner, UnitedLex Corp., to get paid out before creditors during bankruptcy.

Matson was named trustee for LandAmerica after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2009 approved a joint chapter 11 plan that established a liquidating trust to facilitate the liquidation of LandAmerica’s remaining assets and distribution of those assets to creditors, according to Wednesday’s filing.

The filing stated that Matson, between or about Aug. 25, 2019 and Nov. 25, 2019, “did corruptly influence, obstruct and impede, and endeavor to influence, obstruct and impede, the due and proper administration of the law under which a pending proceeding was being had before an agency of the United States, that is the United States Trustee Program.”

The U.S. attorney’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the charge Thursday evening. Matson’s attorney, McGuireWoods partner Brandon Santos, did not immediately provide comment.

In November 2020, Matson agreed to be disbarred in Virginia after he was accused of misappropriating millions from a wind-down account for LandAmerica.

In an affidavit, Matson said he disbursed $1 million to himself from the trust funds in early 2019 and paid another lawyer helping with the liquidation $1.5 million. He also said he preserved more than $300,000 a few months after the initial payment.

The case is: U.S. v. Matson, Docket No. 3:21-cr-00079, ED.Va. 7/14/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com