Earlier this week, John Roesser, a former Biglaw partner, was arrested for making false statements and submitting falsified records in the course of his own bankruptcy proceeding. Roesser was a partner at five firms between 2010 and 2018, jumping from Seyfarth Shaw to Winston & Strawn to Alston & Bird to Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer before he finally landed at Dechert.
Being that he was a Biglaw partner, Roesser’s income was “substantial,” but so were his tax obligations. Those allegedly went unpaid, and he resigned from the New York bar in 2020 after he admitted to misappropriating about $100,000 in client funds from a post-arbitration settlement.
By 2022, Roesser had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the indictment, owed more than $3.8 million in unpaid income taxes (including penalties and interest) while at the same time living in a multimillion-dollar house and owning an Astin Martin sports car. The New York Law Journal has the details on what happened next:
[Roesser] told the bankruptcy court that he would soon receive millions of dollars to pay his debts, according to the indictment. He then allegedly filed false declarations and submitted falsified bank records showing that he had, in fact, received millions of dollars.
“This was false,” prosecutors wrote. “Roesser was concealing that he had not received millions of dollars after all, in a fraudulent effort to retain control of his assets while avoiding payment of his debts.”
Roesser was later involved in sending a $3.9 million check from his debtor-in-possession account for the bankruptcy to the U.S. Treasury for his unpaid taxes, even though he knew the account “did not have a positive balance, let alone sufficient funds to pay the check.”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams (SDNY) said of the charges that Roesser “should have known better—he used to be a lawyer.” Williams continued, stating, “This Office will always bring to justice those who use their status to abuse the public’s trust and to try to put themselves above the law.”
Roesser has been charged with one count of falsification of records in bankruptcy and one count of false oaths and claims in bankruptcy. He’s looking at up to 25 years in prison.
‘Should Have Known Better’: Ex-Am Law 100 Partner Indicted for False Statements, Fake Records in Bankruptcy Proceedings [New York Law Journal]
Former Law Firm Partner Arrested For Bankruptcy Fraud [SDNY / DOJ]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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