May 11, 2018

Wallingford man charged in ID theft

A Wallingford man who allegedly used a victim's identity to file a fraudulent bankruptcy petition has been charged with identity theft and bankruptcy fraud, federal authorities say.

Joel C. Riley, 46, was arrested Monday on the charges and presented in New Haven federal court, where he was released on $100,000 bond and required to wear an electronic monitor, the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Riley also is charged with conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and identity theft, prosecutors said. Each charge bears a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

According to federal investigators, Riley visited a lawyer, claiming to possess power of attorney for a person who was ill. Riley said he wanted to file a bankruptcy petition on the victim's behalf.

When the lawyer told Riley that he needed to meet the victim, Riley returned on June 6, 2017 with a woman he claimed was the victim, even presenting a Connecticut driver's license in the victim's name, authorities said.

That same day, the parties reviewed and signed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, listing unsecured debts of about $277,000 that was filed with the court, they said.

Later in June, the ID-theft victim discovered the bankruptcy filing when she tried using her department-store credit card, investigators said.

The victim later met with Riley's lawyer and disavowed all the debts, including fictitious student loans, listed on the bankruptcy petition, authorities said.

Later, Riley contacted the lawyer and claimed he had erred and apologized, saying he had "not been in the right frame of mind.'' He pleaded with the lawyer to help him rectify matters, but the unidentified attorney instead notified the bankruptcy court.

Riley nor his lawyer could be immediately located Tuesday for comment.

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