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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wallingford Man Sentenced to 2 Years in Federal Prison for Bankruptcy Fraud

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOEL C. RILEY, 48, of Wallingford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for 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.

At the time he fraudulently obtained the loans, Riley was employed by the Connecticut Judicial Branch as a human resources manager.

Riley was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on May 7, 2018. 

Judge Thompson ordered Riley to pay restitution of $211,142 to the victim financial institutions.

In addition to this criminal conduct, the investigation revealed that in at least 19 separate instances over more than a decade, Riley obtained or attempted to obtain loans from financial institutions using the identities of family members without their knowledge or permission.

Riley, who is released on a $100,000 bond, is required to report to prison on March 25.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj N. Patel.

Topic(s): 
Bankruptcy
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated January 23, 2020