HUNTINGTON - A Putnam County attorney has been found guilty of committing fraud in a former client's bankruptcy case.
Following a two-day trial in U.S. District Court, Patrick B. Anderson was convicted on April 29 on one count each of bankruptcy fraud, and fraudulent transfer and concealment of assets. Anderson, 54, a sole practitioner in Winfield, was indicted on the charges in October following a two-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Anderson in February 2007 advised Herman and Peggy Matney of Poca to transfer the mobile home and one acre of property they owned on Harmons Branch Road out of their names before filing bankruptcy to conceal their ownership interest from their creditors. On April 30, 2007, Anderson filed a deed at the Putnam County Clerk's Office transferring the property to the Matney's daughter, Melissa Davis.
The next day, Anderson filed a Chapter 7 petition in U. S. Bankruptcy Court. Records show not only did Anderson fail to disclose the transfer, but also list any real property they owned.
In a letter dated May 2,2007, Peggy Matney alerted the U.S. Trustee's Office to incorrect information contained in the petition. In her letter, she averred that the erroneous information was all Anderson's doing, and it was not their intention to have the petition with the incorrect information filed.
Following a hearing on May 23, 2007, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson ordered Anderson to forward $1,349, and the Matney's case file to Nitro attorney Jeremiah McCormick so the Matneys could properly file their bankruptcy. Anderson apparently admitted to knowingly filing the petition erroneously as in his order Person said "By Mr. Anderson's own admission, he advised the Debtors to transfer their real property to their daughter immediately preceding the bankruptcy filing so as to remove the asset from the bankruptcy estate."
Upon his conviction, Judge Robert C. "Chuck" Chambers ordered that Anderson could remain free on bond. He also ordered the U.S. Probation Office to prepare a pre-sentence report by Aug. 2. Anderson is scheduled to appear again in court for sentencing on Aug. 16. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine.
Anderson's attorney, David Bungard, an assistant U.S. Public Defender, declined to comment on the conviction other than to acknowledge he is preparing an appeal.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, case number 09-cr-233