New York Federal Bankruptcy Fraud Lawyer
Bankruptcies occur regularly in this day – with individual persons, married couples, and corporations utilizing Chapters 7, 11 or 13 of the federal bankruptcy laws to discharge, reduce or consolidate debts with the aid of the courts. In 2014 there were over 963,000 bankruptcy petitions filed.
To avail oneself of this relief, a debtor must disclose all of their assets. However, there are frequent allegations that debtors hide some of their wealth – personal or real property, stocks or other financial instruments, or cash – in an effort to falsely relieve themselves of unwanted obligations or to receive unwarranted protection from a foreclosure. When this type of abuse of the bankruptcy laws is alleged, federal investigators may be called upon to determine if a fraud has taken place. If you are being investigated for these reasons, a New York federal bankruptcy fraud lawyer could help you build a case in your defense.
What Actions Lead to Bankruptcy Fraud Charges?
Bankruptcy fraud may be alleged to have occurred in several different ways. For example, prosecutors may allege that a debtor failed to disclose all of their assets in the bankruptcy petition, lied about their income, or made false statements to the judge or bankruptcy trustee. Additionally, prosecutors may allege that an individual or corporation incurred significant debts or transferred away valuable assets immediately prior to declaring bankruptcy. Finally, it may be alleged that the debtor filed for bankruptcy protection on multiple occasions using different identities. Any of these actions may be the basis for a federal criminal prosecution.
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §152, whoever knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets from a bankruptcy trustee may be punished by up to five years imprisonment. This statute was enacted in an “attempt to cover all the possible methods by which a bankrupt or any other person may attempt to defeat the Bankruptcy Act through an effort to keep assets from being equitably distributed among creditors.” Stegeman v. United States, 425 F.2d 984, 986 (9th Cir. 1970). A New York attorney could assess a federal bankruptcy fraud case and determine what the best course of legal action may be.
Other Federal Charges Related to Bankruptcy Fraud
Additionally, under 18 U.S.C. §157, it is illegal to devise a scheme to defraud by filing a fraudulent or false bankruptcy petition, or by making a false or fraudulent representation in relation to a bankruptcy petition. This crime is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and fined.
In addition to the statutes specifically targeted at bankruptcy fraud, the federal prohibitions against perjury, mail fraud and wire fraud may also apply. According to 18 U.S.C. §§1621 and 1623, any individual convicted of knowingly or willfully making a false statement before a court may be punished by up to five years imprisonment and fined.
Additionally, if the prosecution can prove that either the mail or any electronic communication service was utilized to facilitate a bankruptcy fraud, then a defendant may receive a charge of mail or wire fraud as well. Importantly, a conviction for committing either of these crimes is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment – and up to 30 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine if the criminal conduct affected a financial institution. A federal bankruptcy fraud attorney in New York could help someone mitigate these potential penalties.
Speak with a New York Bankruptcy Fraud Attorney
Because the consequences of these charges are extremely harsh, you should contact a top New York federal bankruptcy fraud lawyer for help dealing with these allegations. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have successfully handled countless federal fraud cases, exploiting holes in the prosecution’s evidence to achieve a favorable outcome. To get started on your case, call today.