Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty to Making a False Statement
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that David Zaniewski, 42, formerly of Buffalo, NY, now residing in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to making a false statement in a bankruptcy proceeding before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who is handling the case, stated that in July 2007, the defendant obtained a charge card from American Express. During an approximately three week time frame, Zaniewski charged in excess of $119,000 to the card. Charges included airfare, hotels, furniture, cemetery plots, gift cards, and foreign currency.
In September, 2007, the defendant took the American Express charge card to Bert’s Bike Store, in Orchard Park, NY, where he and a store representative engaged in a transaction involving approximately $36,000 worth of purchases charged to the credit card. However, instead of merchandise, Zaniewski received cash.
The defendant never made any payments to American Express to offset the charges. In May, 2008, Zaniewski filed a bankruptcy petition in the Western District of New York, and attempted to discharge all of his debt with American Express through the bankruptcy process.
In connection with his bankruptcy proceedings, the defendant was placed under oath and asked questions about his bankruptcy petition, including his debts with American Express. During the proceedings, the defendant made materially false statements, including statements that he did not recall the nature of his fraudulent transactions at Bert’s Bike Store in September 2007.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The matter was referred by the U.S. Trustee Program’s office in Buffalo, NY.
Sentencing is scheduled for September 30, 2015 before Judge Arcara.