Former Rockford Physician Pleads Guilty to Bankruptcy Fraud
ROCKFORD — A former Rockford physician pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala to making false statements in a bankruptcy case. LYNN Y. ZOIOPOULOS (also known as Lynn Shelton-Zoiopoulos), 60, now of Chicago, Ill., filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition on Aug. 11, 2009. According to the written plea agreement, Zoiopoulos signed a declaration under penalty of perjury that the schedules she filed in the bankruptcy case were true and correct to the best of her knowledge, information, and belief. However, as Zoiopoulos admitted in the plea agreement, she had an interest in the estate of her deceased grandmother that she had intentionally concealed in order to deceive the bankruptcy trustee.
In the plea agreement, Zoiopoulos also admitted to defrauding her grandmother’s estate. According to the plea agreement, Zoiopoulos was appointed Executor of her deceased grandmother’s estate in 2001. As Executor, Zoiopoulos opened a bank account with the balance reaching up to $855,178 in May 2006. In October 2008, Zoiopoulos used $550,000 of the money from that account to purchase an annuity contract, which after its purchase became an asset of the estate. Between June 2008 and November 2012, with the intent to deceive and defraud the estate, Zoiopoulos embezzled assets of the estate by converting them to her own use, knowing she had a fiduciary duty not to use the assets of the estate for her personal benefit. Zoiopoulos further admitted she tried to conceal her embezzlements by not filing the required inventory, accounting, tax returns, and status reports for the estate.
Zoiopoulos also admitted she intended to conceal her embezzlements by sending $35,000 to her sister for the purpose of lulling her sister into believing the estate was being properly administered. Along with the payment, Zoiopoulos sent her sister a letter indicating she had invested the rest of the estate money. Zoiopoulos admitted in the plea agreement that she had not reinvested the money, but had embezzled it, and had sent the letter to her sister for the purpose of preventing her sister from making further inquiries into the status of the estate.
In October of 2012, Zoiopoulos took the remaining balance of the annuity, $227,170.18, and used the money for her personal benefit although she knew the money was an asset of the estate.
Providing material false statements or documents under penalty of perjury in a bankruptcy case carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from that offense, whichever is greater. The judge may also impose a sentence of probation of one to five years, and a term of supervised release of up to three years, and restitution. The actual sentence will be determined by the United States District Court, guided by the Sentencing Guidelines. Sentencing for Zoiopoulos is set for May 12, 2016, at 2:30 p.m.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Michael Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Love and Margaret J. Schneider.