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Jury Convicts Kanakee Woman For Bankruptcy Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2010

Urbana, Ill. – A jury deliberated less than an hour today before returning its guilty verdict against a Kankakee, Illinois woman for bankruptcy fraud, as announced by Jeffrey B. Lang, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. Taeana S. Stokes, 39, also known as Teana Stokes and Taena Stokes, of the 1400 block of Willow Street, was convicted of one count of bankruptcy fraud.

Jurors heard evidence in the trial yesterday, March 16, presented by the government, that in June 2006, Stokes prepared and submitted a falsified letter purportedly from a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge as part of a credit application to American Mortgage Company. The document falsely stated that prior bankruptcy proceedings filed by Stokes in 2002, 2003, and 2004 were not hers, but instead pertained to her sister. As a further part of the scheme, on July 13, 2006, at a hearing before the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, Stokes falsely advised the Judge that her ex-husband was attempting to purchase an automobile and must have forged the bankruptcy document.

Evidence was also presented that Stokes filed petitions for bankruptcy in 2002, on two occasions in 2003, again in 2004, and again in December 2005. On Jan. 5, 2006, the U.S. Trustee filed a Motion for Order to Show Cause why the petition should not be dismissed for abuse of process. According to the motion, prior to filing the December 2005 petition, Stokes had filed bankruptcy every year since 2002 and obtained an automatic stay against her creditors. During a hearing on Jan. 12, 2006, Stokes falsely claimed that she had not filed the bankruptcy petitions in 2002, 2003, and 2004 and told the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge that her ex-husband must have filed the petitions. Stokes received a discharge on May 8, 2006, and the case was closed on May 16, 2006.

The charge resulted from a referral by the Bankruptcy Judge and an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in coordination with the Central Illinois Bankruptcy Fraud Working Group. The Bankruptcy Fraud Working Group includes representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois, U.S. Trustee’s Office for Region 10, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris is prosecuting the case.

Sentencing for Stokes is scheduled on June 18, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. in Urbana. Stokes faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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