Michael J. Fletcher, 64, admitted to knowingly and fraudulently concealing his ownership in a Tulsa home when he filed his voluntary bankruptcy petition.
Fletcher filed the petition Aug. 12, 2011, in Tulsa bankruptcy court claiming $30,000 in assets against $3.5 million in liabilities, records show. In his bankruptcy petition, Fletcher claimed he had no financial interest in any real property, when in fact, he had recently made a $235,000 down payment to purchase a home in south Tulsa.
In his Sept. 24 plea agreement, Fletcher admitted to testifying falsely that his father owned the home in the 6200 block of East 110th Street. Fletcher also admitted to lying when he said during his bankruptcy proceeding that his father purchased the home in part with a $235,000 loan from Fletcher’s daughter, according to the plea agreement.
Prosecutors noted that Fletcher also persuaded his father and daughter to testify during the bankruptcy proceeding that they were the source of the down payment funds to corroborate his false testimony.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Tulsa charged Fletcher by information Aug. 1 in federal court with one count of making a false oath in a bankruptcy proceeding.
The charge alleged Fletcher made the false statement about ownership in the home during a 2014 trial in bankruptcy court.
“I made this false statement in order to conceal my ownership interest in the 110th Street property from the bankruptcy court and from my bankruptcy creditors,” Fletcher wrote in his plea agreement with prosecutors.
U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a statement that Fletcher defrauded the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and creditors.
“He corrupted the bankruptcy process by lying to the court and convincing family members to lie on his behalf,” Shores continued. “He further showed a history of avoiding substantial income and payroll tax obligations.
“This prosecution should serve as a warning to white collar criminals that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will diligently pursue justice and hold unscrupulous individuals accountable for their crimes.”
The 4,700-square-foot home, currently valued at $591,500, was sold in a 2014 sheriff’s sale, according to the Tulsa County Assessor website.
Fletcher, in a court filing, blamed both himself and the Internal Revenue Service, “for the difficulties getting a resolution when doing so would have been beneficial to both parties.”
He requested the judge sentence him to probation, rather than prison time.“Mr. Fletcher shouldn’t have made a false statement about his ownership in the 110th Street house regardless,” Fletcher’s attorney, John Russell, wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “But the nature and circumstances of the offense don’t warrant incarceration.”
“Fletcher’s pattern of choosing to pay for personal expenses related to his house or business rather than his substantial income and payroll tax obligations demonstrates a characteristic, regular avoidance of legitimate tax obligations that weighs heavily against a variance in this case,” said Andrew Kameros, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, in the government’s sentencing memorandum.
In sentencing Fletcher to probation, Chief U.S. District Judge John Dowdell noted that Fletcher had limited assets, substantial tax debt and health issues.