Bankruptcy Trustee pleads guilty in Miami Federal Court to removing funds for personal use.
A bankruptcy trustee is a private individual, usually a C.P.A. or with similar financial expertise, who is appointed by the U.S. Trustee in Federal Bankruptcy Court and given the job of safeguarding the assets of a bankruptcy estate. The job includes collecting the assets and property belonging to the estate, keeping detailed and accurate records of all funds received and disbursed, and making regular reports of financial activities during the estate administration. It is a job that requires a person who can be trusted with an enormous amount of money. Unfortunately it did not work out that way for Marika Tolz, who had been a trustee for the Miami Bankruptcy Court for over 20 years. For the past seven years, she and other coconspirators regularly dipped into funds from bankruptcy estates to which she had been appointed as trustee to safeguard, and used these funds for her own benefit. On May 5, 2011, Marika Tolz pled guilty in Federal Court in Miami to a one-count information charging her with committing Federal wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1349. The wire fraud statute is commonly used in prosecuting Federal white collar crimes.
After taking out funds from one bankruptcy estates, she would continue to misappropriate funds from other estates to restore the balance of other fiduciary accounts from which she had previously removed funds. In one specific transaction on May 20, 2010, Tolz caused a one million dollar wire transfer from the Bank of America Trust Account of Buchanan, Ingersol, and Rooney PC into the Sun American Bank Marika Tolz General Trust Account. These funds had been earmarked as forfeiture proceeds for the victims in the Scott Rothstein Ponzi scheme in Florida (United States v. Scott Rothstein, 09-60331-cr-Cohn). Those funds were instead used by Tolz to cover a previously issued $967,856 check and replace monies taken from the Driscoll bankruptcy estate.
Losses from this fraud totaled about $2.4 million, while at least $16 million was misappropriated from numerous matters to which she had been appointed as trustee, to cover the previously removed funds. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2011 before U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez. The guilty plea was reported by Ina Paive Cordle, a writer for the Miami Herald.