A former Richmond man was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in federal prison for bank fraud.

Howard Hoffman, 53, more recently of Moorpark, California, was president of Malamute Investment Management in Maine when he accessed a Wachovia Bank account containing about $80,000 under the name of a person who had died in March 2007 and changed the account address to his own in Richmond, according to court records.

Hoffman had pleaded guilty April 15, 2016, to one count of bank fraud for taking the money from his late friend’s bank account in the spring of 2008.

According to a federal indictment, “Hoffman caused two checks, totaling about $80,000, to be issued from his friend’s account,” said a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The friend had died in Costa Rica, according to court documents, and the account was with Wachovia Bank in New Jersey.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff, who prosecuted the case, said the friend’s assets were left to the friend’s mother.

Hoffman was sentenced by Chief Judge Nancy Torresen in U.S. District Court in Portland. The prison term is to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Hoffman had been indicted on bank fraud charges in April 2015.

Court documents from December 2015 also show Hoffman’s attorney, David Van Dyke, arguing in a trial brief that the friend never had revoked authority he had given to Hoffman to access the account and use the money in it. In a sentencing memo, Van Dyke suggested a sentence of four months for Hoffman, which is the time he has been held after pleading guilty; or, alternatively, eight months with a portion of community or home confinement, and two years of supervised release. He said Hoffman intends to return to live with his wife in Montana.

“This offense was clearly very bad judgment from a lifetime businessman,” Hoffman wrote, “perhaps occasioned by the confluence of a need for money and the availability of funds due to the (apparent) death of a life-long friend.”

Wolfe had recommended Hoffman serve 21 months in prison for the offense, saying he failed to appear for a trial date and gave false information to the court.

The news release said the case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.