Bankruptcy Attorney Steals Client’s Identity and Credit
In a fascinating criminal case now unfolding in Illinois, a personal bankruptcy attorney is charged with using his client’s federal income tax returns and credit cards for his own benefit.
In a sworn FBI affidavit filed with the Northern District of Illinois, Attorney Bradley F. Aubel, 47, of Vernon Hills, Illinois, is accused as follows. First, he is charged with defrauding Honda and a financing company, in order to purchase a 2011 Honda Fit automobile. The affidavit states that he made “materially false and fraudulent representations” on an application for credit, including providing false income tax returns to the creditor.
Allegedly used his bankruptcy clients’ tax returns. Using “wire communications”, that is a fax or email clearly made it “interstate commerce” bumping the case up to the federal level. Second, Attorney Aubel, filed “materially false and fraudulent representations” with the United States Department of Education in order to obtain forbearance on his student loans, the FBI claims. The documents included his clients’ tax returns, or information from them. He had not even filed federal tax returns for the years he provided to the USDOE.
Third, he attempted to bribe his employee, of ten years, to collude with him in order to escape investigation and prosecution. This included instructing the employee to plea guilty and that Mr. Aubel would pay his bills while incarcerated! Mr. Aubel started to pay the mortgage and paid the employee’s sister $6,000 to leave the country! He even agreed to pay his employee’s salary while he was incarcerated.
Apparently in July 2010, Mr. Aubel’s employee was initially arrested and charged with identity theft. He was allegedly using the credit card of one of Mr. Aubel’s bankruptcy clients. Eleven months later, the employee began to cooperate with the FBI, getting his own charges dropped.
The investigation with the unnamed employee showed that Attorney Aubel used bankruptcy clients’ credit cards to make purchases and take unauthorized cash advances, and later discharging the debts in federal bankruptcy. The affidavits made public do not clearly state how this went unnoticed, however, with 27 years of Massachusetts bankruptcy experience, I can surmise: there is a 90 day lookback period. Thus, if a fiduciary, like a bankruptcy attorney were to have the credit card, or the credit card number, make charges or take cash advances using the form checks clients provided by a client in the “pile of documents” normally provided to a bankruptcy attorney, you would wait the 90 days before filing, and avoid suspicion. I don’t know if this is what was done.
Whether Attorney Aubel can get around the extensive testimony of his former employee, and the numerous surveillance videos, and countless text messages that the FBI obtained, we don’t know. We don’t normally undertake representation of white collar defendants. However, based on the documentation filed with the federal court, there is a lot of evidence that Attorney Aubel secured private confidential information from his bankruptcy clients and used it for his advantage.
These events are rare and not likely to happen with most bankruptcy attorneys, in Massachusetts, or elsewhere. You can be confident that clients of the Law Office of Neil Burns get effective and caring advice.
The affidavit that we sign, on all Massachusetts bankruptcy petitions, fully discloses what our fee is.