Earlier this month, it was reported that a Middleton, Wisconsin, man was indicted on bankruptcy fraud and related charges for allegedly failing to disclose all of his assets when he filed for bankruptcy.

The U.S. Department of Justice claims that the man disclaimed an $800,000 inheritance in 2009, but then kept the money despite the disclaimer.

According to the indictment, the man filed for personal bankruptcy in May 2010 but did not fully report his assets. He is accused of hiding assets from his creditors, the bankruptcy trustee and the bankruptcy court. 

Additionally, the feds accuse the man and his wife of operating a scam to defraud creditors of their estate from February 2009 through August 2012.

The man could face up to 30 years in federal prison if he is convicted on all of the charges he faces, which include one charge of bankruptcy fraud, one charge of fraudulently concealing assets from the bankruptcy court, two counts of making false statements under oath and a money-laundering charge.

We aren’t writing about this story to scare you away from filing for bankruptcy, or to suggest that it is common for people to willfully break the law when filing for bankruptcy protection.

Rather, we are writing about his story to show the importance of filing for bankruptcy with the help of an experienced attorney so that you don’t make a serious error that could lead to criminal charges.

The federal bankruptcy code is in place to give a fresh financial start to Americans who desperately need it.  But the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t take abuse of the system lightly, which is why you want to make sure that you are following all of the rules and regulations carefully.