- Mitchell Kossoff convicted of civil contempt by federal bankruptcy judge
- Kossoff refused to hand over documents to the trustee overseeing his former law firm
(Reuters) – A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Tuesday convicted New York real estate attorney Mitchell Kossoff of civil contempt and said he would seek jail time for defying court orders to cooperate with the chapter’s trustee 7 supervising the dissolution of his former law firm.
U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge David Jones in Manhattan said Kossoff can avoid jail and serve the contempt order if he hands over documents, including a list of creditors and personal financial information , to Al Togut, the Chapter 7 administrator overseeing the Kossoff PLLC estate.
Kossoff “just didn’t diligently attempt to comply and took no action to do so,” Jones said at a hearing.
Whether or not he complies, Kossoff remains free until Jones’ findings can be confirmed by a U.S. District Judge, allowing the bankruptcy court to issue an arrest warrant. Kossoff will also have the opportunity to challenge his findings in district court, Jones said.
If the district court confirms its findings quickly, Jones has said he will not issue an arrest warrant for Kossoff for the next seven days.
“I think no committal order is likely enough to induce Mr. Kossoff to comply,” Jones said. He noted that Kossoff was ordered to deliver the materials to Togut for months.
Togut requested the civil contempt verdict earlier this month. He declined to comment.
Kossoff PLLC was forced into bankruptcy in May after creditors claimed it embezzled more than $ 8 million from its escrow accounts.
Kossoff, once a staple of the New York real estate market, is reportedly under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney. That means providing Togut with information would waive his 5th Amendment rights, his defense attorney Walter Mack argued repeatedly, to no avail.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Mack said he and Kossoff would submit documents to Togut, but he signaled that they would not be complete. “We’re ready to drop something. You’re not going to be happy about it,” he said.
The case is In re Kossoff PLLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 21-10699.
For Togut: Neil Berger, Brian Shaughnessy and Minta Nester of Togut, Segal & Segal
For Kossoff: Walter Mack de Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack
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