May 11, 2015

Three Dallas Residents Indicted on Bankruptcy-Related Charges

DALLAS—A federal grand jury in Dallas returned two unrelated indictments last week charging three Dallas residents with felony offenses stemming from filed bankruptcy petitions, announced John Parker, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

In one indictment, Diana Yamille Hernandez, 41, is charged with one count of misrepresentation of a Social Security number and one count of making false statements under penalty of perjury. Her co-defendant, Erica Soria, a/k/a “Erica Soria Fisher, 39, is charged with one count of making false statements.

According to that indictment, in August 2011, Hernandez retained a law firm, identified in the bankruptcy petition as the Allmand Law Firm of Dallas, to help her file for bankruptcy. Soria, an employee of that firm, assisted Hernandez in preparing and processing the bankruptcy documents. Hernandez told Soria that she was using a false Social Security number and possessed a fraudulent Social Security card. Both Hernandez and Soria concealed the existence of this false Social Security number in documents filed with by the law firm with the bankruptcy court.

Hernandez made her initial appearance in federal court this afternoon; Soria made her initial appearance on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver released both on bond.

In a separate, unrelated indictment, Al Hakeem Muhammad, II, 26, is charged with one count of misrepresentation of a Social Security number. The indictment alleges that he used a Social Security number that he knew was not his when he completed a credit application to obtain a lease on an apartment located in Victory Park in Dallas.

That indictment stems from a federal criminal complaint filed last month against Muhammad. According to that complaint, Muhammad also stated on that credit application that he had never filed for bankruptcy protection, when, in fact, Muhammad personally filed for bankruptcy in May 2013 in the Eastern District of Texas and in July 2012, October 2012, and January 2013 in the Northern District of Texas. In addition, according to that complaint, in March 2015, Muhammad also made a false statement, under penalty of perjury, in relation to a bankruptcy filing he made when he misstated on that filing that the current value of real estate he owned in Detroit, Michigan, was $77,000, when it fact, in 2014, it was valued for tax purposes at $10,200. He also falsely testified to that in an April 2015 bankruptcy hearing.

Muhammad made his initial appearance in federal court on the complaint on April 28. His arraignment is set for May 26, 2014.

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. The maximum statutory penalty for each of the offenses charged in these two indictments is five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

These cases represent felony prosecutions of bankruptcy-related crimes generated by the recent Bankruptcy Fraud Initiative within the Northern District of Texas. Since February 2013, 12 defendants have been charged with various felony offenses. Six defendants have entered guilty pleas and five have been sentenced. One defendant is set for trial, and one defendant remains in fugitive status with outstanding arrest warrants.

The FBI investigated the Muhammad case, and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General investigated the Hernandez/Soria case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.