On Friday, October 13, 2017, it was announced that a bankruptcy attorney had been sentenced to prison for fraud offenses. 70-year-old Peter Ressler of Woodbridge was sentenced to 63 months in prison along with three years of supervised released for embezzling millions from his bankruptcy clients.
Court documents and statements made in court show that Ressler served as an attorney with a bankruptcy practice in New Haven, Connecticut. He was accused of defrauding numerous clients in a variety of ways. The defendant required many clients, who were filing a Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 reorganization, to deposit funds and promised that the money would later be used for the reorganization.
The defendant was ultimately entrusted with hundreds of thousands of dollars from at least ten businesses. Unfortunately, Ressler did not hold onto the funds as promised. Instead, he used the money for other purposes. When submitting Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 filings, Ressler was required to report the status of a debtor’s assets and liquidity. In many cases, Ressler had improperly dissipated a portion of the client’s assets. Therefore, he ended up filing misleading reports.
Ressler was also involved in “work outs”, in which he attempted to resolve the debts without relying on the protections of bankruptcy. In these situations, Ressler would often require his clients to deposit funds, which he promised would be used to settle disagreements with creditors. For instance, the defendant took $64,000 from one client to purchase property and at least $199,000 from another client to negotiate a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service. In each case, Ressler used the money for other purposes.
In early 2016, a Bankruptcy Court identified criminal conduct carried out by Ressler. In total, it was determined that Ressler misappropriated $3,401,452 from 48 clients. He used the money for personal and family living expenses. In June of this year, Ressler pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement from a bankruptcy estate, one count of bankruptcy fraud and one count of wire fraud. He has been sentenced to 63 months in prison.
Ressler has been ordered to report to prison on January 15, 2018.