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Professor caught trying to hide retirement funds

Both parties in a divorce are obligated to provide a list of their assets and debts so that marital property can be determined and subsequently divided. Ideally, this is done in an amicable manner where the couple is comfortable with the tally and how it is to be equitably divided. But unfortunately, some spouses engage in attempting to hide or falsify assets.  Hiding or failing to fully disclose assets in a Colorado divorce matter can lead to a case being reopened for up to five years after a decree enters.  There is also exposure to paying the legal fees and costs of the wronged party.

A recent example is a University of Minnesota professor who tried to falsify the amount of money in his retirement accounts in an attempt to cheat his ex-wife out of her rightful share. He was caught and is now convicted of one count of attempted theft by swindle and two counts of aggravated forgery for providing several forged financial statements. According to local news reports, the wife could have lost nearly $354,000 in assets if this fraudulent behavior was not caught.

Aggravating factors make it worse

The jury took just a few hours to find the professor guilty, and found several aggravating factors that will likely mean harsher penalties than are usually recommended by the state guidelines. These factors include other incidents of theft and swindle over an extended period of time and potential losses estimated to be more than $100,000.

The man also has other criminal charges stemming from the purchase of 14 handguns in a 17-day period in 2017 after he had been charged with providing the false documentation. He agreed to pay a fine and sell the weapons. If there are no other weapons-related incidents for one year, seven weapons charges will be dismissed.

Professional standing at risk

As a professor of electrical and computer engineering and the director of the Technological Leadership Institute, the husband now finds that the University is following this matter carefully. It remains to be seen how harsh the sentencing will be in November, 2018 but institutions and businesses take a dim view on staff being convicted of serious crimes or crimes of financial fraud and deception

Smart people can make bad decisions

It is mistake to think that one can cheat an ex-spouse out of assets. Attorneys with experience handling divorces, particularly ones with spouses exhibiting suspicious behavior, can protect the rights of the innocent and help ensure that they are not taken advantage of. Contentious divorces like this one can lead law enforcement and financial experts to examine the assets.  This is a costly process in-and-of itself. If hiden assets are found, it can lead to serious charges. The bottom line is that dishonesty costs much more in the long run so being honest and fully complying with the mandatory disclosure requirements of Colorado is always the best option.

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