Russell Geyer pleaded guilty to a number of crimes in federal court on Wednesday, after faking his own death to conceal assets from federal bankruptcy court and fraudulently using a Florida attorney’s identity to cover up his plot, KTRK-TV reports.
The 50-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of contempt of court, one count of bankruptcy fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity fraud. He nows faces up to life in prison, with his sentencing slated for Aug. 6.
“In an effort to game the bankruptcy system, Mr. Geyer devised a made-for-TV plot that ultimately collapsed under its own weight,” U.S. Attorney Cullen said. “The audacity of his fraud scheme not only shocks the conscience, but it offends the integrity of our judicial system.”
Court documents show that Geyer used a number of deceitful tactics to hide his assets from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, including falsely claiming to have medical conditions, including prostate cancer, bone cancer, cardiac issues, a brain aneurysm, and pneumonia.
Geyer also assumed the identity of his wife and sent an email to his lawyer on Aug. 30, 2019 saying Geyer was dead.
At a hearing in September, Geyer’s wife said that her husband was very much alive and neither of them had left town or been hospitalized for the medical conditions that Geyer alleged he had.
During the hearing, Geyer’s attorney also shared an email that the aforementioned Florida attorney had sent him, which said that unbeknownst to Geyer, the lawyer had sold some of Geyer’s assets involved in the bankruptcy proceedings. The email also said that the lawyer was in complete control of Russell and told him to commit suicide. The email ended with the attorney writing, “I am on a plane out of the country.”
However, a federal investigation found that while the attorney whose name was used in the email is a real person, he wasn’t involved in Geyer’s case. Prosecutors said that Geyer used the attorney’s name and created a bogus email without the attorney knowing. Geyer had also used the attorney’s identity to acquire $70,000 from his wife, telling her he needed the money to pay attorney’s fees for a settlement that could get them over $1 million. To make the story sound even more believable, Geyer also used an app to disguise his voice and pretend to be the attorney. None of it was true.