Wisconsin Man Sentenced for Concealing Assets in Bankruptcy Proceeding

What are the penalties for concealing assets during a bankruptcy proceeding?

Paul Graves, a 60-year-old man from Middletown, was sentenced last month by U.S. District Judge James D. Petersonfor making false statements under oath in connection with a bankruptcy proceeding. He and his wife owned and operated a hardware business and had accumulated $500,000 in business debts.

Disclaimer of Inheritance

The criminal activity began in May of 2009 when Graves, planning to file for personal bankruptcy, executed a fraudulent disclaimer of a large inheritance. The inheritance, left to him by his mother when she died in February of 2009, had a value of approximately $800,000. An investigation revealed that, in spite of his disclaimer, Graves managed to retain the use, control and benefits of the assets he supposedly disclaimed.

Bankruptcy Filing and Lying Under Oath

A year later, in May of 2010, Graves filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, intentionally failing to disclose the concealed assets from not only his creditors, but from the bankruptcy trustee and the bankruptcy court. Exacerbating his misdeeds, he took an oath at the bankruptcy proceeding that all his statements of assets were complete and entirely truthful.
Graves’ oath was later proved untruthful since he failed to reveal:

• Use and control of the inherited assets fraudulently disclaimed in 2009
• Ownership of a one-quarter interest in a 9-acre island in Canada
• Ownership of a 2-bedroom cabin on that island used for family retreats since 1995
• Wife’s joint ownership of a home in Jackson County, WI
• Wife’s joint ownership of two bank accounts worth over $200,000
• Joint ownership with a rent-free lifetime tenancy of a home in Middleton, WI
• Ownership of a 2009 Mercedes SUV purchased with funds he had disclaimed

Charges and Penalties

The charges brought against Paul Graves resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee’s Office in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. At Graves’ sentencing, Judge Peterson referred to Graves’ scheme designed to fraudulently evade debts he owed, as well as to use substantial assets he had supposedly disclaimed for his own personal gain.

Graves, who pleaded guilty to all charges, was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement and 5 years of probation. In addition, he was order to pay over $186,500 restitution to his creditors in the bankruptcy.

Crimes involving bankruptcy proceedings are always serious and carry heavy penalties. If you find yourself faced with overwhelming debt and are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should retain the services of a knowledgeable and competent bankruptcy attorney who can guide you through the complexities of the process.

How Much Does It Cost to File Bankruptcy?

What are the fees and costs associated with personal bankruptcy?

Today many Americans are in a poor financial situation.  Whether it is due to a job loss or medical condition, you might be unable to pay your bills.  If this is the case, personal bankruptcy might be right for you, however, there are attorney fees and other costs involved with a bankruptcy filing    The following is a breakdown of those costs. Filing Fees and Costs

Just like any other legal matter, there are court fees associated with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings.  For Chapter 7, this includes a filing fee of $245.00, an administration fee of $75.00 and a trustee surcharge fee of $15.00 for a total of $335. For Chapter 13, there is a filing fee of $235.00 and an administration fee of $75.00 for a total of $310. All fees are due at the time of filing unless you are eligible to pay in installments or qualify for a waiver. If you cannot pay the Chapter 7 fees up front and want to pay in installments, you must file a Form 3A Application and Order to Pay Filing Fee in Installments.  The fee must be paid in no more than four installments and within 120 days of filing.  If you are unable to pay the fee at all you might qualify  for a waiver provided that your income is 150% below the poverty line and you are not able to pay in installments.  In order to obtain a waiver you must submit Form 3B Application for Waiver of Chapter 7 Filing Fee.  You may also have to appear in court and be examined by a judge.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is based on the premise that your debt will be restructured and that you will pay it off in a number of years according to a repayment plan.  Therefore, if you cannot afford the fees you will likely be unable to afford the monthly repayment.  Also, Chapter 13 debtors are prohibited from paying attorneys fees until their filing fees are paid. For both of these reasons, it is unlikely that Chapter 13 debtors will be eligible for installment payments or waiver.

Credit Counseling

Credit counseling is a requirement of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.  Most of the credit counseling courses cost between $20 and $50 and some are even free.

Attorney Fees

Lastly, having an attorney means paying legal fees that vary depending on the complexity of your case, the attorney’s experience and the geographic location. While fees can be paid upfront or in a payment plan, Chapter 7 filings generally have lower fees than Chapter 13 cases. If you are are considering filing for personal bankruptcy, you should consult with an attorney.