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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eight Defendants Charged with Bankruptcy Fraud Involving Over $3 Million in Concealed Assets

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Guy G. Gebhardt, Acting United States Trustee for Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Region 21), announce the filing of federal charges against 8 defendants in 5 separate cases, involving the alleged concealment of over $3 million dollars in assets from the United States Bankruptcy Court, the United States Trustee’s Office in Miami, Florida, and the defendants’ chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees.  The alleged conduct was committed in order to shield assets from creditors and avoid the repayment of outstanding debts.

United States Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice those who defraud the United States Bankruptcy Courts and the United States Trustee’s Office, and abuse the bankruptcy process in order to escape the repayment of personal debts.  Each year, countless bankruptcy petitions are filed by law-abiding individuals who face difficult financial circumstances.  The cases announced today reaffirm our dedicated efforts to protect the federal bankruptcy system from fraud and ensure that those in need can benefit from vital governmental support services.” 

“Federal bankruptcy proceedings can be a lifesaver for honest individuals overwhelmed by debt,” said William J. Maddalena, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “Yet others seek to line their pockets through illicit actions.  The FBI takes seriously our responsibility to pursue allegations of bankruptcy fraud and will investigate debtors who corrupt the bankruptcy process through deceit and lies.”

Acting United States Trustee Guy G. Gebhardt stated, “Criminal bankruptcy fraud threatens the integrity of the bankruptcy system, as well as public confidence in that system.  We are deeply grateful to U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer and our partners for their commitment to combating bankruptcy-related crimes, as demonstrated by the charges announced today against eight defendants.”         

The U.S. Trustee Program is the Justice Department component that protects the integrity of the bankruptcy system by overseeing case administration and litigating to enforce the bankruptcy laws.  Region 21 is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., with additional offices in Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, and Tampa, Fla.; Macon and Savannah, Ga.; and San Juan, P.R.

Today, United States Attorney Ferrer, the FBI and Acting United States Trustee Gebhardt announce the most recent results of their joint investigative efforts to combat bankruptcy fraud.

1.  United States v. Kathleen Anne Smith Cutuli and Gregory Lee Cutuli, Case No. 16-20233-CR-Altonaga

On April 8, 2016, Kathleen Anne Smith Cutuli, 65, and Gregory Lee Cutuli, 65, both of Plant City, were charged in a seven-count indictment with committing criminal offenses related to Kathleen Cutuli’s petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

According to allegations contained in the indictment, the defendants falsely and fraudulently transferred and concealed property and then Kathleen Cutuli declared bankruptcy to avoid paying money to Kathleen’s former business partner. Specifically, Kathleen and Gregory Cutuli transferred Kathleen’s $1,819,068 federal income tax refund to Gregory and concealed the transfer from the Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustee’s Office and the chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee. Additionally, Kathleen Cutuli made false statements in her bankruptcy petition filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, FL, and concealed from the Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustee’s Office and the chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee approximately $32,000 in furs and jewelry, approximately $114,000 in household goods and furnishings, and approximately $117,404 in cash. In total, Kathleen Cutuli and Gregory Cutuli transferred and concealed more than $2,000,000 in assets.

Kathleen and Gregory Cutuli are charged with conspiracy to fraudulently transfer and conceal property in contemplation of a bankruptcy proceeding under Title 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.  Kathleen Cutuli is also charged with the fraudulent transfer and concealment of property in contemplation of a case under Title 11, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 152(7); concealment of property in connection with a case under Title 11, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 152(1); and making a false oath and account in relation to a case under Title 11, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 152(2).

         This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Langley.

 

2.  United States v. Rolando Garcia and Aileen Crespo, Case No. 16-20297-CR-Scola

On April 29, 2016, Rolando Garcia, 52, and Aileen Crespo, 43, of Miami, were charged in an eleven-count indictment for committing criminal offenses related to Garcia’s petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

According to the allegations contained in the indictment, from at least as early as February 28, 2012, and continuing through October 10, 2014, Garcia and Crespo conspired to commit bankruptcy fraud by transferring assets they held jointly to Crespo in a divorce settlement, before Garcia filed for bankruptcy.  These pre-bankruptcy transfers shielded the assets from Garcia’s creditors once Garcia filed a false and fraudulent bankruptcy petition on July 19, 2013 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, Florida.  Among the assets concealed were properties in Ashe County, North Carolina, valued at approximately $366,300.00; $36,000 in cash used to purchase a Jaguar vehicle valued at approximately $80,000; and $100,257.60 in cash from the sale of a condo in the Bahamas. 

Garcia and Crespo are charged with conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, the fraudulent transfer and concealment of property in contemplation of a case under Title 11, and the fraudulent transfer and concealment of property in connection with a case under Title 11.  Garcia is also charged with making false oaths and accounts in relation to a case under Title 11.

         This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Cervantes.

 

3.  United States v. Rebecca Solemani-Appelbaum, Case No. 16-20212-CR-Williams

On April 1, 2016, Rebecca Solemani-Appelbaum, 50, of Boca Raton, was charged in a ten-count indictment for committing criminal offenses related to her petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

According to the allegations contained in the indictment, on or about February 13, 2012, before filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, Florida, Solemani-Appelbaum liquidated approximately $102,445.89 from her IRA Account.  Solemani-Appelbaum then transferred the money into a family member’s account, over which the defendant had sole authority.  Between March 1, 2012, and April 11, 2012, Solemani-Appelbaum used almost all of the transferred funds.  Solemani-Appelbaum failed to disclose the transfer of those funds, as required in her bankruptcy petition and various amended filings.  When asked about the accuracy of her disclosures in the bankruptcy petition, Solemani-Appelbaum made false representations to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustee’s Office and the chapter 7 trustee. 

Solemani-Appelbaum is charged with the fraudulent transfer and concealment of property in contemplation of a case under Title 11, concealment of property in connection with a case under Title 11, and making a false oath and account in relation to a case under Title 11.

         The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Cervantes.

 

4.  United States v. Walter Alexander Lista, Case No. 16-20318-CR-Martinez

On May 5, 2016, Walter Alexander Lista, 43, of Pinecrest, was charged in a twelve-count indictment for committing criminal offenses related to his petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

According to the allegations contained in the indictment, from on or about March 26, 2012, through on or about February 21, 2014, Lista transferred and concealed his assets, including a Jeep Wrangler, a thirty-four foot boat (“the Isabella”), approximately $41,200 in cash, and his interest and roles in companies that he owned.  On or about May 30, 2013, Lista filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, Florida.  The indictment alleges that Lista failed to disclose the transfer of these assets, the value of which exceeds approximately $160,000, as required in his bankruptcy petition and his various amended filings.  When asked about the accuracy of his disclosures in the bankruptcy petition, Lista made false representations to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustee’s Office and the chapter 7 trustee.

Lista is charged with conspiracy to fraudulently conceal and transfer property in connection with a case under Title 11, the fraudulent transfer and concealment of property in contemplation of a case under Title 11, concealment of property in connection with a case under Title 11, and making a false oath and account in relation to a case under Title 11.

        The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan K. Osborne.

 

5.  United States v. Yechezkel Nissenbaum and Tamar Nissenbaum, Case No. 16-20333-CR-Cooke

On May 6, 2016, Yechezkel Nissenbaum, 39, and Tamar Nissenbaum, 35, both of Miami Beach, were charged in a three-count indictment for committing criminal offenses related to their joint petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

According to the allegations contained in the indictment, on or about March 3, 2010, the Nissenbaums liquidated a Regions Bank Certificate of Deposit.  On or about February 10, 2011, the Nissenbaums filed a joint petition for chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, Florida.  The indictment alleges that the Nissenbaums failed to disclose the liquidation of the Certificate of Deposit, worth approximately $141,829.61, as required in their bankruptcy petition.  When asked about the accuracy of her disclosures in the bankruptcy petition, Yechezkel Nissenbaum made false representations to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustee’s Office and the chapter 7 trustee. 

The Nissenbaums are charged with conspiracy to fraudulently transfer or conceal property in contemplation of a case under Title 11 and the fraudulent transfer and concealment of property in contemplation of a case under Title 11.  In addition, Yechezkel Nissenbaum is charged with making a false oath and account in relation to a case under Title 11. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan D. Stratton.

 

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and thanked the U.S. Trustee’s Office for referring each of these matters. 

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.      

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Topic: 
Bankruptcy
Updated May 17, 2016