Barbara Jean Dennis, 60, Las Vegas, NV, a former Nevada real estate agent who owned at least 12 rental properties in Nevada and Texas and filed multiple bankruptcy petitions to avoid paying the mortgages, has been sentenced to 11 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and restitution of $83,000. She was sentenced on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Judge Dawson also entered an order restricting Dennis from engaging in real estate business during the period she is on supervised release.
Dennis pleaded guilty in February to bankruptcy fraud, admitting that she used the automatic stay provision in bankruptcy proceedings to avoid paying the mortgages, while at the same time, collecting rent from her tenants. Dennis filed three bankruptcy petitions in the District of Nevada and two in the Southern District of Texas between August 2009 and November 2010. The filing of the bankruptcy petitions caused the bankruptcy court to issue an automatic stay, which prevented the mortgage lenders from filing foreclosure proceedings on her properties during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceedings. Dennis also delayed the bankruptcy cases by failing to appear at hearings and meetings, failing to submit supporting financial documents and other paperwork to the Court, and failing to disclose prior bankruptcy cases. In one case, Dennis filed the bankruptcy petition under a false name and failed to disclose the other petitions and the names under which they had been filed. Over the course of the fraud scheme, from Aug. 31, 2009, through Dec. 17, 2010, Dennis received at least $150,000, but not more than $250,000 in rental income.
“As this case demonstrates, the fallout from the housing crisis in Nevada is still impacting federal investigations and prosecutions,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada in announcing the sentence. “The prosecution of these cases typically takes years and requires a significant amount of resources. This sophisticated fraud scheme involved mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud, 12 properties in two states, and five bankruptcy petitions.”
The sen case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn C. Newman and investigated by the FBI.