Houston U.S. Attorney announces bankruptcy fraud charges

J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Posted on Jun 28, 2016

Please don't file a bankruptcy case just to stall a foreclosure, unless you are willing to go through with it. If you repeatedly misuse the bankruptcy process to defraud your creditors, or make false declarations in your bankruptcy documents, you can be charged with federal crimes. And I recommend that you do not file bankruptcy, particularly chapter 11 or 13 bankruptcy, "pro se" or by yourself. As Abraham Lincoln said, "he who represents himself has a fool for a client."

Seven people living in the Houston, Texas area are now facing indictments for bankruptcy fraud and making false statements. I'll summarize the U.S. Attorney's press release is as follows:

A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas returned a total of seven separate indictments against individuals alleged to have filed multiple bankruptcy cases to prevent creditors from initiating foreclosure proceedings against their properties, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The individuals are each charged with filing several bankruptcy cases each to obtain the protection of an “automatic stay” fwhich would stop their mortgage companies from completing foreclosures against property for which they had outstanding loans.

Each time a creditor would post a property for foreclosure, the defendants would allegedly file a bankruptcy case in order to stop the foreclosure using the court's "automatic stay." The charges allege that the the defendants would not complete any of the other legal requirements  to pay their debts under the protection of the bankruptcy laws. After 45 days, the bankruptcy cases were dismissed, according to the indictments.

The number of bankruptcy cases the defendants allegedly filed ranged from four within less than two years to 12 over a five-year-period. The defendants did not make any payments to their creditors under a court approved payment plan, according to the charges. Also, every time a defendant filed a bankruptcy case, they allegedly failed to list all of the cases they had previously filed. They also signed each filing as being true and correct under penalty of perjury, according to the indictments.

Each person is charged with bankruptcy fraud-scheme to defraud and making false declarations under penalty of perjury. If convicted of either charge, they face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. The FBI conducted the investigations with the assistance of the U.S. Trustee’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Quincy L. Ollison is prosecuting the cases.  

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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