By Mark E. Vogler
---- — HAVERHILL — A city man could spend up to five years in federal prison for failing to disclose residential property he owned in Puerto Rico, when filing a bankruptcy petition four years ago.
Peter Schutter, 57, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman yesterday to bankruptcy fraud involving the concealment of assets.
Schutter is due back in court on Dec. 18 for sentencing. In addition to prison time, he could receive three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The U.S. Trustee’s Office in Worcester referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office after the fraud came to light, investigators said. In 1994, Schutter’s mother deeded a parcel of property in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, to Schutter and his wife.
But Schutter failed to list the property as an asset when he filed his Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in April 2009, according to court documents. A month later at a meeting of creditors, Schutter was specifically asked by his bankruptcy trustee whether he had owned any real estate in the prior four years other than property in Memphis, Tenn. He answered, “No, sir” under oath, according to the documents.
On June, 5, 2009, Schutter’s bankruptcy trustee requested bank records from Schutter and his wife. Those records contained references to payments made in Puerto Rico involving the property there.
Schutter later disclosed the Puerto Rico property, but only after providing the trustee with the requested records that would have led to the discovery of that property. The trustee later sold it for $115,000 for the benefit of creditors.
United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Division, announced Schutter’s guilty plea yesterday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit is investigating the case.