Perjury is a Bankruptcy Crime in New York

Associated Press reported on May 27, 2010 in “Ex-Oilers owner Pocklington pleads guilty to bankruptcy perjury” that Former Edmonton Oilers owner pleaded guilty to perjury in a bankruptcy fraud case. The bankruptcy debtor, age 68 at the time, entered the plea to a single perjury count in U.S. District Court under a deal that allowed him to avoid a possible 10-year prison term for making false statements and oaths in a bankruptcy claim he filed in 2008. The bankruptcy debtor was expected to receive probation, including 6 months home detention. The debtor argued he did nothing wrong, and that it was his lawyer who made the mistakes by leaving things out of the bankruptcy filings. The Oilers won five titles from the time that the former owner acquired the team in the late 1970s until he sold it in 1998. He filed for personal bankruptcy in 2008, claiming debts of $19.6 million and assets of about $2,900. The bankruptcy debtor was arrested in March 2009 on allegations he concealed assets during bankruptcy proceedings. Allegedly, he failed to note he controlled 2 bank accounts and 2 storage facilities. FBI agents who raided his home in 2009 found $2,000 in cash, artwork, and boxes of shoes.

When filing bankruptcy, a New York debtor has to be careful of what s/he does and says and does. Everything filed with the court is signed under penalty of perjury. A debtor must read the petition page by page to make sure the attorney does not make a mistake. The attorney can only input into the petition the information the debtor gives. If the debtor pays off some debts like federal taxes, the debtor has to tell the attorney to fix it on the petition if the amount the petition says owed to the IRS is wrong. If the debtor does not have credit cards listed in a petition anymore, the debtor has to tell the attorney. Sometimes an attorney wants to make sure the debtor has read each page in the petition. When a debtor gets charged with bankruptcy fraud for giving false information in filings, s/he may blame the attorney. All hearings in New York bankruptcy courts are recorded. Every witness give an oath that s/he will tell the truth. When a debtor lies, it does not just hurt the debtor in retirement savings, but also the NY debtor could end up in prison. Perjury is a subjective crime, and requires the person to intend to lie. When making the false statement, the debtor has to know the statement is materially false.

When filing bankruptcy, work with an experienced New York bankruptcy attorney who advises you to stay true when getting out of debt.