Former Virginia stockbroker Clyde B. Pitchford Jr. pleaded guilty today to 14 counts of embezzlement and two counts of making a false statement in a plea agreement that gave him a 25-year prison sentence.
Circuit Judge James B. Wilkinson sentenced Pitchford, 31, to 21 years in prison on the first three embezzlement charges, added four years on a fourth count and suspended imposition of sentence for the remaining 12 charges.
Pitchford, whose tastes extended to chauffeured Rolls-Royces and thoroughbred racehorses, was ordered to return $1.15 million to the clients and banks he bilked. He surrendered to FBI agents in Washington in May three months after he disappeared from a New York hotel.
The once flamboyant stockbroker faced 45 counts of embezzlement, making false statements to obtain loans and forgery. He was accused of embezzling money from clients when he was a broker for E.F. Hutton & Co. Inc. and Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. and with defrauding banks on personal and business loans.
When asked by Wilkinson if he had any explanation for his actions, Pitchford replied, "No."
He disappeared Feb. 12 while on a business trip. Within a week of his disappearance, Richmond banks filed motions to force Pitchford's holdings into involuntary bankruptcy.
Under the plea agreement between Commonwealth's Attorney Aubrey M. Davis Jr. and defense attorney Reeves W. Mahoney, the remaining 28 counts against Pitchford were not prosecuted. Under Virginia law, Pitchford should have to serve about six years before he will be eligible for parole.
"It's a plea agreement but a very fair plea agreement," Mahoney said. "You have to remember this man turned himself in voluntarily. He has spared the Commonwealth great expense in putting on a trial by pleading guilty."
"The suspended imposition of sentence on 12 indictments, coupled with the onerous restitution requirement, will operate as a long-continuing sanction against the defendant . . . ," Davis said in a news release. "It firmly punishes the transgressor and protects the victim."