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

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

(Reuters) - A former partner at major international law firms was accused on Tuesday of making false statements to a U.S. bankruptcy court, part of what U.S. prosecutors alleged was an effort to hold onto a multi-million dollar house and a luxury sports car despite owing millions in unpaid taxes.

John Roesser, a former international arbitration lawyer, was charged with submitting falsified records and making false statements in a bankruptcy, according to an indictment unsealed in New York federal court.

Roesser was arrested Tuesday morning in Bronxville, New York, and was set to make his first court appearance later in the day. Attorney information for Roesser was not immediately available.

A lawyer who represented Roesser in the bankruptcy, H. Bruce Bronson, declined to comment.

Roesser was a partner with at least three law firms, Alston & Bird; Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer; and Dechert, between 2013 and 2018, according to prior online announcements and court records.

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

By 2022, Roesser owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $3 million in unpaid income taxes and filed for personal bankruptcy, according to the indictment.

Roesser told the U.S. bankruptcy court in New York and the IRS that he would soon receive millions from a real estate commission to help pay his debts, a claim that turned out to be false, prosecutors alleged.

The indictment alleges Roesser made false submissions in a bid to retain control of assets, including his home and an Aston Martin luxury sports car. Those assets could have been seized by creditors if Roesser did not formulate a viable plan to pay his debts, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York said in a statement that Roesser had “corrupted and degraded” the U.S. bankruptcy system.

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