Attorney Charged with Forgery of Bankruptcy Court Orders
SAN JUAN – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a 10-count indictment against attorney Luis R. Santos Báez, charging him with forgery of a federal bankruptcy court judge’s signature, obstruction of justice and wire fraud, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, has announced. Santos Báez was arrested earlier Tuesday by agents from Homeland Security Investigations.
The indictment alleges that Santos Báez forged and concurred in the use of a purported legal documents bearing the false signatures of Hon. Mildred Cabán-Flores and Hon. Edward A. Godoy, both judges of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Puerto Rico, for the purpose of authenticating said documents for the bankruptcy proceedings, to wit: documents that appeared to be court orders signed by the judges, had in fact never been entered by the bankruptcy court nor signed by any judge.
The indictment also alleges that the defendant enriched himself by obtaining money and property from individuals under the false and fraudulent pretenses and representations that the defendant had filed on their behalf, bankruptcy petitions under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. During the course of the scheme, Santos Báez filed on behalf of Debtor #1, Debtor #2 and Debtor #3, various bankruptcy petitions in bankruptcy court. He received payments from the debtors for filing and attorney’s fees. However, the bankruptcy petitions filed by Santos Báez were later dismissed by the court for failure to pay the corresponding filing fees and/or failure to provide required information to the court.
Furthermore, Santos Báez made a series of false and fraudulent statements and representations to convince the debtors that he was working on their cases, and that they were under bankruptcy protection, when in fact their cases had been dismissed. He also sent emails attaching fraudulent court documents purportedly filed in the debtors’ bankruptcy cases and signed by bankruptcy court judges.
If convicted, Santos Báez faces a sentence of up to 29 years of imprisonment.