Doctor faces federal bankruptcy fraud charges

Being forthcoming about your financial situation in important in many situations, including when seeking financial advice, applying for loans and even when filing for bankruptcy. A doctor living in one of Mississippi's neighboring states has recently been scrutinized for potentially making false statements in connection with his Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. His situation reveals the serious consequences that flow from such potential fraud.

A federal grand jury has indicted the doctor -- who was allegedly experiencing financial challenges -- on four counts of bankruptcy fraud. The U.S. Attorney's Office accuses the doctor of excluding key financial information as well as making false claims about his financial situation. He apparently did not disclose his ownership interests in certain companies and did not list all of his assets, including jewelry and cash. Further, the doctor attested on his bankruptcy petition that the information he provided was true and correct. Now, the doctor faces substantial penalties, including jail time and a $250,000 fine -- which would increase his personal debt.

The doctor's story teaches important lessons to Mississippians struggling with debt and considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. An important section of a bankruptcy petition is the portion in which the person filing for bankruptcy declares under penalty of perjury that the financial information disclosed is true and accurate.

Some people may gloss over the phrase "penalty of perjury," but it is an important part of the legal system and has significant consequences. Perjury is the criminal charge that follows when someone knowingly makes a false statement or assertion under oath. Perjury is considered a crime against justice since the legal system turns on honesty.

In bankruptcy, honesty may even be more essential and critical since it involves individuals being forthcoming about their debts in order to receive protection and security under the law. When someone violates the tenants of bankruptcy, it has serious repercussions.

Source: The Telegraph, "Former Macon doctor indicted in federal bankruptcy fraud case," Amy Leigh Womack, April 12, 2013

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