Inkster Resident Convicted of Criminal Contempt
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 19, 2013|
A bankruptcy petition preparer was found guilty today by a federal jury in Detroit on five counts of criminal contempt, announced United States Attorney Barbara McQuade.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Joe Mack, supervisor of the U.S. Trustee’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and Acting Special Agent in Charge John Robert Shoup, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Convicted was Derrick Hills, 53, of Inkster, Michigan.
The five-day trial was conducted before United States District Judge Sean F. Cox.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Hills had acted as a bankruptcy petition preparer since 2007, assisting people in filing for bankruptcy. Hills continued to act as a bankruptcy petition preparer despite five bankruptcy court orders issued by Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, permanently enjoining Hills from doing so for various non-compliance with bankruptcy rules and complications caused by his acting in the capacity of a bankruptcy petition preparer. Hills assisted individuals with consumer debts in preparing and filing their Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork. However, his actions went well beyond what was allowed by law and clearly violated Judge Rhodes Orders.
Supervisor Mack said, “All courts, including the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, speak through their orders. To have a bankruptcy system that functions properly, those orders need to be adhered to. The court needs to know who is preparing petitions on behalf of debtors and who is advising them so that it can insure that debtors are not being taken advantage of and so that the court can hold the right people accountable, if necessary. Mr. Hills simply refused to obey those orders, and now he will be held accountable for his actions.”
U.S. Attorney McQuade added, "This defendant’s repeated violations of the bankruptcy court’s orders undermine the court’s authority and ability to function effectively. We want to make it clear to all litigants that flaunting court orders has criminal consequences."
Sentencing of Hills is scheduled to take place on January 15, 2014, before Judge Cox. Criminal contempt has no statutory maximum penalty; therefore, it will be within the judge’s discretion as to any period of incarceration to which Mr. Hills could be sentenced. The defendant has presently been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing.
Assistance in prosecuting the case was provided by the U.S Trustees Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Roble and Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Weier.