COVINGTON—Forty-seven-year-old Richard A. Sharp pled guilty Wednesday (June 3) to racketeering and two felony counts of issuing worthless checks as part of an elaborate scheme to defraud a company and its investors. As part of the plea agreement, Sharp agreed to pay $600,000 in restitution over five years through monthly installments of $10,000.
Sharp also read a seven-page statement of apology, outlining the details of his crime and admitting that he used every opportunity to malign the company, named GDH International, his former business partners, and others associated with them in the media and on social media outlets. Sharp’s plea included an agreement that he refrain from making any defamatory, slanderous, false statements or allegations against the victims or their family members.
“I apologize to GDHI, (shareholders) Jared Riecke, Bruce Cucchiara, Daniel Buras, Dudley Geigerman, Patrick Gros, and their family members for the trouble that I put them through by my misconduct, threats, false claims, and misrepresentations,” Sharp read in his statement.
Judge Walter Rothschild accepted the plea agreement, which included a five-year prison sentence that will be suspended as long as Sharp completes five years of active probation. Assistant District Attorney John Alford prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the District Attorney’s Office and Covington Police Department.
Sharp’s scheme dates back to August 2011, when he was first introduced to the GDH International shareholders and misrepresented himself as a petroleum engineer. Sharp promised the men that he could use his multitude of contacts in the oil business to help the company win contracts to provide housing in oil fields in the Middle East.
When the shareholders offered Sharp the opportunity to become a partner, he pledged to invest $154,975, which he said was due to him about a month later from a major international oil company. Sharp even provided the other partners documentation of the promised money. While waiting for the investment, the company incurred expenses and made payouts to Sharp for a project in Iran. But the project never materialized, and neither did the promised investment.
On Wednesday, Sharp admitted that he “provided false resumes, false claims of military service, false work histories, set up fake offices, and provided false financial reports,” all for the purpose of stealing from the investors. He also admitted to using various user names online—among them Rs990892, luke1972, theyarecriminals, Dale, rocketmanwinning, and Uh Oh—to spread lies about the company and its shareholders and deflect attention from his own guilt after his arrest. “I admit that I used blogs, forums, meetings with reporters, third parties, anonymous names, pseudonyms, and other names to post false and misleading information…,” Sharp added.
Among the false accusations he admitted were insinuations that GDH International and some of its investors were involved in the death of Covington businessman Bruce Cucchiara, who was fatally shot in April 2012 in eastern New Orleans. Sharp said, “I distorted facts, spread rumors, and engaged in libelous, defamatory, and slanderous actions…I made sure that these rumors were seen and delivered to Bruce Cucchiara’s family. I further admit that I fabricated arguments to the court, wherein I claimed that Bruce Cucchiara was my star witness after Bruce was murdered.”
Sharp, who lives in Texas, also admitted to filing lawsuits full of false claims and falsifying claims of misconduct against the Covington Police Department, Covington Mayor’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and Judges in the 22nd Judicial District.
You can read Sharp’s apology letter here.