A 46-year-old Connecticut man was arrested on Monday, May 7 on a criminal complaint charging him with bankruptcy fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and identity theft.
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said that in December 2016, Joel C. Riley of Wallingford visited an attorney claiming that he had power of attorney for another individual (the “victim”) who was ill, and that he wanted to file a bankruptcy petition on the victim’s behalf.
The attorney told Riley that the attorney needed to meet with the victim in person to confirm her identity.
After several delays, on June 6, 2017, Riley and a woman claiming to be the victim met with the attorney at his office.
The woman presented a Connecticut driver’s license in the name of the victim as identification. That same day, the parties reviewed and signed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, which the attorney filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut. The petition listed unsecured debts of approximately $277,000.
The complaint further alleges that, later in June 2017, the victim tried to use a department store credit card and learned that a bankruptcy petition had been filed in her name, without her knowledge and authorization.
On June 28, 2017, the victim met with the attorney and stated that she did not file for bankruptcy.
That same day, Riley reportedly sent an email to the attorney stating: “I clearly owe you more than an apology and clearly have not been in the right frame of mind. I need to make this right. And I know that exposes myself. You have done so much for me and I betrayed that. Please let me know what I can do to resolve this.”
The attorney then notified the bankruptcy court.
It is further alleged that the victim testified in bankruptcy court that her identification had been missing from her wallet when the petition was filed. She further testified that other than a student loan, all of the other unsecured debt listed in the bankruptcy petition was not her debt and that Riley had impersonated her in the past in order to obtain credit. On July 21, 2017, the bankruptcy court dismissed the false bankruptcy petition in the victim’s name.
After his arrest, Riley appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector in New Haven and was released on a $100,000 bond and electronic monitoring.
Bankruptcy fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy each carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj N. Patel.
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