Judge Sentences North Huntingdon Man Convicted of Bankruptcy Fraud to Two Years in Federal Prison
PITTSBURGH—A resident of North Huntingdon, Pa., has been sentenced in Pittsburgh, on August 3, 2015, on charges of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, and making false statements under oath, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Michael J. Free, 62, of Center Highway, North Huntingdon, Pa., 15642, had been charged in a six-count indictment that was tried to a jury before United States District Court Judge Mark R. Hornak. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all six counts in December of 2014. Judge Hornak sentenced Free to two years in prison and three years of Supervised Release.
Prior to imposing sentence Mr. Free took the witness stand and was questioned by his own attorney and government counsel as well as by Judge Hornak. Judge Hornak commented that he found none of Free’s testimony to be credible. He commented that Free’s answers were evasive and nonsensical and he indicated that Free had tried to give the court “the run around.”
According to the evidence presented during the trial, Free submitted fraudulent documents during a bankruptcy that he filed in July of 2010. Among the matters for which he was convicted were filing a false Schedule A that failed to identify to the Bankruptcy Court a residence he owned in Fayette County as well as a false Schedule B that failed to list the majority of the guns that Free had in a large collection of World War II era machine guns and rifles. The jury heard that at one point the Trustee supervising Free’s bankruptcy learned that Free was selling some of his guns through Internet advertising. After the Trustee reported this activity to the Court the Bankruptcy Court judge ordered Free to file an accounting with the Court listing all the guns sold and how much he had received for each sale. Free filed yet another false document claiming that nothing had been sold and that there was nothing to account for. The jury also found Free guilty for lying under oath at a meeting of creditors held during the Bankruptcy process.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation, based on a referral by the Office of the United States Bankruptcy Trustee.