Wallingford Man Pleads Guilty to Bankruptcy Fraud
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that JOEL C. RILEY, 47, of Wallingford, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty yesterday in Hartford federal court to one count of bankruptcy fraud.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately April 2015 and July 2016, Riley fraudulently applied for and obtained loans and lines of credit in the name of another individual (the “victim”), without the victim’s knowledge or permission, using her name and personal information. By December 2016, the outstanding debt on those loans was approximately $211,142, and Riley did not have the intent or the ability to repay the debt.
On December 15, 2016, Riley visited an attorney claiming that he had power of attorney for the victim. Riley informed the attorney that the victim was ill and that Riley wanted to file a bankruptcy petition on her behalf. The attorney told Riley that the attorney needed to meet with the victim to confirm her identity.
After several delays, on June 6, 2017, Riley and a woman claiming to be the victim (“the imposter”) met with the attorney at his office. Riley had recruited the imposter to impersonate the victim and provided the imposter with the victim’s Connecticut driver’s license, which Riley had taken from the victim without her knowledge or permission. During the meeting with the attorney, the imposter presented the driver’s license as identification. The parties subsequently 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.
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 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.
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.
Riley is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on August 8, 2019, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
Riley has been released on a $100,000 bond since his arrest on May 7, 2018.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj N. Patel.