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Press Release

St. Louis County Bankruptcy Attorney Accused of Mail, Wire Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A bankruptcy attorney appeared in U.S. District in St. Louis Wednesday to answer charges accusing him of defrauding the state of Missouri and lending institutions. 

Michael Toscano, 42, was indicted Dec. 20, 2023, in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. He turned himself in Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

The indictment alleges that from roughly April 1, 2018, though Dec. 19, 2023, Toscano devised a scheme to defraud the state of Missouri and lending institutions by falsely claiming bankruptcy filers’ vehicles had been abandoned, and then selling some through his used car dealership. Toscano also obtained referrals from other bankruptcy attorneys whose clients sought to surrender their vehicles to creditors rather than to continue to pay their vehicle car loans, according to statements made in court Wednesday.

Toscano told debtors to deliver their vehicles to his office in Creve Coeur or to a St. Charles County storage facility, the indictment says. He also picked up some vehicles that were inoperable, it says. Toscano then mailed documents to the Missouri Department of Revenue and the holders of liens on the vehicles falsely claiming that they had been abandoned and that he’d incurred towing and storage fees, the indictment says. He demanded payment, writing that he would seek an abandoned motor vehicle title or mechanic’s lien if the fees were not paid within 30 days, the indictment says. In some cases, Toscano delayed notifying lienholders for as long as 45 days, causing storage fees to exceed $2,300, the indictment says.

If payment was not made, Toscano submitted false and fraudulent documents to the contract license offices of the DOR seeking the issuance of abandoned vehicle titles or mechanic lien titles and then offered the vehicles for sale through his used car dealership, the indictment says. The vehicles referenced in the indictment are a 2006 Audi A8, a 2018 Chevrolet Impala and a 2017 Kia Forte.

The mail fraud and wire fraud charges are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or both prison and a fine. 

Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Missouri Department of Revenue and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is prosecuting the case.

Contact

Robert Patrick, Public Affairs Officer, robert.patrick@usdoj.gov.

Updated January 5, 2024

Topic
Financial Fraud