Ex-law firm partner pleads guilty to bankruptcy fraud

Signage is seen at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York City

Signage is seen at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 24, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly Acquire Licensing Rights

Sept 12 (Reuters) – A former partner at three major law firms pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making false statements in U.S. bankruptcy court in an effort to keep his multi-million dollar house and luxury sports car, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

John Roesser, 52, a former international arbitration lawyer who practiced as a partner at law firms Alston & Bird, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Dechert from 2013 to 2018, could face up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of false oaths and claims in bankruptcy.

Roesser’s attorney, Mark Cohen of Cohen, Frankel & Ruggiero, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said Roesser made false statements in his own personal bankruptcy proceedings in an effort to hold onto his assets, including his house and an Aston Martin luxury sports car, despite owing more than $3 million in unpaid income taxes.

“The defendant — who used to be a lawyer and knew exactly what he was doing — manipulated and corrupted a system that helps so many,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement following the plea.

Roesser’s assets could have been seized by creditors if he did not formulate a viable plan to pay his debts, so prosecutors said he falsely told the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. bankruptcy court in New York that he was going to receive millions from a real estate commission.

Roesser resigned from the New York bar in 2020 after admitting to misappropriating about $100,000 from a client following a post-arbitration settlement, according to state court records. He filed for bankruptcy in 2022.

The case is United States v. Roesser, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1:23-cr-00155

For the United States: Steven Kochevar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the southern District of New York

For John Roesser: Mark Cohen, of Cohen, Frankel & Ruggiero

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Ex-law firm partner charged with false statements to U.S. bankruptcy court

Reporting by David Thomas

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.

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