Dallas Woman Indicted in Bankruptcy Fraud
DALLAS — Estela Martinez, 53, of Dallas, made her first appearance in federal court this afternoon for the felony offense of bankruptcy fraud, as charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas earlier this week. She pleaded not guilty and U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan released her on bond. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
The indictment alleges that from January 2011 through November 2012, Martinez filed several fraudulent bankruptcy petitions concerning, or in relation to, bankruptcy proceedings. She also allegedly made several false, fraudulent and material statements regarding her social security number in four Chapter 13 voluntary bankruptcy petitions. The indictment further alleges that Martinez repeatedly sought to defraud her creditors, by her efforts to delay, and frustrated the ability of the mortgage holder to foreclose on her residence.
A federal indictment is an accusation by a grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the offense of bankruptcy fraud carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation is being conducted by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.
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