Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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Woman facing charges for personal bankruptcy decisions

Choosing to file for bankruptcy is a decision that no California resident enters into lightly, even when it is clearly the best course of action. Once the personal bankruptcy process begins, the individual who filed is obligated to assist his or her attorney in completing the process in a timely manner, and with accurate information. Failure to do so can result in the case being thrown out of bankruptcy court, or even in criminal charges.

An example is found in a 59-year-old woman who stands accused of bankruptcy fraud. Specifically, she is accused of making false statements about the full scope of her assets, and of hiding assets from the bankruptcy court. If convicted, she faces a fine of $250,000 for each charge, as well as up to five years in federal prison.

The bankruptcy court asserts that the woman listed the value of her home at $145,000, when the property sold for $289,000. She is also accused of understating the value of certain other pieces of personal property, including clothing and jewelry. There are also questions concerning her decision to sell several pieces of jewelry prior to filing for bankruptcy.

Few details have been released in the matter, and what has been made available is part of the legal record, and not a statement from the woman or her legal team. It is entirely possible that the woman simply made errors in disclosing the value of her property, and had no intent to defraud the bankruptcy court. However, if she is unable to present a compelling legal argument, she could face significant punitive measures. Her case is a strong reminder to California residents of the importance of retaining a qualified personal bankruptcy attorney to guide the process and to ensure that all of the applicable rules and regulations are being met.

Source: stltoday.com, "Ellisville woman indicted on charges of bankruptcy fraud", Nassim Benchaabane, Aug. 19, 2016

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