Saco woman pleads guilty to federal bankruptcy fraud

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PORTLAND — A Saco woman pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to committing bankruptcy fraud, U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee announced.

Christina Q. Shea, 45, faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine as well as three years of probation following her prison sentence.

Prosecutors said Shea used her husband’s identity to file for bankruptcy after she was previously barred from filing for a specific period.

Had the case gone to trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew K. Lizotte wrote in court papers, the government would have established that the bankruptcy filings followed a period in which Shea failed to make required mortgage payments on the property. house she shared with her husband. Bag. On November 7, 2017, a sale and foreclosure judgment was entered in favor of the mortgage lender. The judgment ordered the defendant and her spouse to pay the full amount owed within 90 days or the lender would sell the property. According to the courts, the payment was not made.

Shea had been a member of the Saco School Board, elected in July 2020 to serve a partial term. Shea resigned on Sept. 3, 2021, “due to unforeseen and deeply personal circumstances,” she told the school board at the time.

Lizotte wrote that Shea filed a series of four bankruptcies in her own name with the US Bankruptcy Court in Portland from 2018 to 2020 and made a subsequent filing in her husband’s name. Such filings trigger an automatic stay, barring creditors from acting — its desired outcome, the prosecutor noted. All four bankruptcy filings Shea has made on her behalf have been thrown out by the court – the latest because she was not allowed to file for a year.

In April 2020, prosecutors said Shea used her husband’s name and other identifying information, such as his Social Security number and employment information without his permission, and initiated a bankruptcy filing. in his name. According to Lizotte, she did so to impede the mortgage lender’s sales and collection efforts. Prosecutors said Shea used a cell phone to create an email account and registered it in her spouse’s name, used it to file bankruptcy papers, and signed his name to a Western Union money order that she had used to pay the application fee. Court documents say Shea then posed as his wife while taking an online credit counseling course.

Shea will be sentenced after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the US Probation Office and was released on a personal recognizance. The conditions of her release include that she report to United States Probation and Pretrial Services as instructed. A sentencing date has not been set.

The FBI investigated the case.

Shea is represented by attorney Heather Gonzales of the Public Defender’s Office.

Shea agreed to plead guilty to the federal charge in late August. The case was unsealed on November 16, the day she made her first court appearance.

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