News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Oct. 21, 2010


CALIFORNIA MAN’S SECOND INDICTMENT CHARGES HE LIED IN BANKRUPTCY FILINGS

TOPEKA, KAN. – A California man who once made his living training bankruptcy petition preparers has been indicted on charges of making false statements in his own bankruptcy, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. At the time of the crime, the indictment alleges, the defendant already was facing bankruptcy fraud charges in U.S. District Court in Kansas.

Robert Andrew Blechman, 41, Culver City, Calif., is charged with one count of conspiracy to make false statements in a bankruptcy petition and one count of criminal contempt of court. Co-defendant Michael N. Sofris, 46, Beverly Hills, Calif., also is charged in both counts.

The indictment states that Blechman was indicted June 11, 2008, along with Isaac Yass and charged with conspiring to operate a company called Stopco, which offered customers a service it falsely claimed would prevent them from losing their homes to foreclosure. Blechman was released on his own recognizance pending trial in that case with the condition that he not violate any federal laws while on release.

During trial on the initial charges, co-defendant Sofris testified on behalf of Blechman. He identified himself as Blechman’s employer and as Blechman’s legal representative. Sofris also testified that he and Blechman trained bankruptcy petition preparers on what needed to be disclosed in petitions.

On July 14, 2009, Blechman was found guilty on 13 counts. On Jan. 4, 2010, a judge entered a forfeiture order against Blechman of more than $1 million. On Jan. 21, 2010, Blechman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

On May 17, 2010, Blechman filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in California, with Sofris serving as his legal representative. Nowhere in the documents they filed in Blechman’s bankruptcy did they disclose that Blechman had been convicted in federal court or that he had been ordered to forfeit more than $1 million in the case. They also failed to disclose the fact that the United States was an unsecured creditor for that amount. In addition, Sofris concealed from the bankruptcy court in California that he had been Blechman’s employer, that Blechman owed him substantial legal fees and that he had been trustee of a trust that held Blechman’s residence at 11901 Lucile Street in Culver City, Calif.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the conspiracy and a penalty at the discretion of the court on the contempt charge. The U.S. Trustee’s Office investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney are prosecuting.



OTHER INDICTMENTS



A federal grand jury meeting in Topeka, Kan., also returned the following indictments:

Fernando Meraz, 36, Las Cruces, N.M., and Eminda J. Ramirez, 34, Las Cruces, M.M., are charged with possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The crime is alleged to have occurred Sept. 17, 2010, in Wabaunsee County, Kan.

If convicted, they face a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in federal prison and a fine up to $2 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

Michelle Laverne Flippin, 34, who is in custody in the Saline County Jail, is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and one count of unlawful possession of ammunition after a felony conviction. The crimes are alleged to have occurred July 18, 2010, in Saline County, Kan.

If convicted she faces a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in federal prison and a fine up to $2 million on the crack cocaine charge and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the firearms charge. The Salina Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting.

Gaylyn Page, 26, Topeka, Kan., is charged with three counts of distributing crack cocaine and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in August and September 2010 in Shawnee County, Kan.

He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $2 million on the drug charge and a maximum penalty of 10 years and fine up to $250,000 on the firearms charge. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hendershot is prosecuting.

John Jason Michael, 27, who is in custody in the Norton Correctional Facility, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, and one count of possession of a stolen firearm. The crime are alleged to have occurred April 4, 2010, in Shawnee, Coffey and Jefferson counties in Kansas.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting.

Pascacio Lopez-Alvarez, 34, Mojave, Calif., is charged with one count of possession intent to distribute cocaine. The crime is alleged to have occurred Sept. 13, 2010, in Wabaunsee County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $2 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.


 

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