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Press Release

New York Woman Pleads Guilty To Bankruptcy Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Patricia Bonavito pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in San Francisco to giving false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

In pleading guilty, Bonavito admitted to making numerous false statements, under the penalty of perjury, in furtherance of a bankruptcy petition through which she sought relief of $308,249 in debts. She admitted to knowingly making these false statements concerning matters material to the determination of whether the Bankruptcy Court should forgive her debt. The false statements included the following: she denied that anyone owed her any money, when in fact someone owed her a 50% interest in a $150,000 promissory note; she denied having any other income or transferring any property during the two years prior to filing her bankruptcy petition, when in fact she had received more than $500,000 from the sale of properties in San Francisco and New York; she denied that her name was on any real property not listed on her original petition, when in fact she purchased a property in New York for $385,000 shortly after filing for bankruptcy in San Francisco; and she denied giving any money to friends or relatives in the year prior to filing, when in fact she had transferred $200,000 to her daughter just months before filing.

Bonavito, 59, formerly of San Francisco and currently from New York City, was indicted by a federal Grand Jury on April 17, 2013. She was charged with eight counts of false statements in bankruptcy proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 152(3), and one count of false testimony under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 152(2). Under the plea agreement, Bonavito pleaded guilty to four counts of false statements in bankruptcy proceedings.

Bonavito’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 12, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. before The Honorable William H. Alsup, U.S. District Court Judge, in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of false statements in bankruptcy proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 152(3), is 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Hallie Hoffman is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elizabeth Garcia. The prosecution is the result of a 20-month investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with substantial assistance from the United States Bankruptcy Trustee.



Updated November 18, 2014