Temporary suspension for attorney from cases of bankruptcy

Chesson ordered to pay $5,000 fine for claims of impersonation

Local attorney Christian D. Chesson has received a 90-day suspension from practicing in bankruptcy court after a judge issued a ruling that comes after a civil trial against Chesson and his firm regarding the handling of bankruptcy cases.

Although the trial was held months ago, the ruling, which came down Thursday, said there was a “pervasive scheme to impersonate debtors during credit counseling” which resulted in the filing of false pleadings, thereby committing a fraud upon the court.

At issue was the fact that a trustee for bankruptcy court contended that Chesson and his staff filed false credit counseling verifications in 11 cases.

The trustee, Henry G. Hobbs Jr., said in the court filings that during a period of July 25, 2014, through April 8, 2016, Chesson’s staff “impersonated individual debtors during telephone and online credit counseling briefings, and then prepared and filed credit counseling verifications that falsely stated the debtors had completed the briefing prior to filing their cases.”

According to the trustee, the debtors in those 11 cases were not present when the credit counseling briefings occurred. The trustee presented testimony from debtors in each of the 11 cases stating that they did not participate in a credit counseling briefing prior to filing their bankruptcy cases.

Three of Chesson’s former employees testified that they completed the credit counseling briefings for the debtors without any involvement by the debtors prior to the filing of their cases.

Chesson and fellow defendants denied that the staff impersonated debtors and have suggested that the testimony of former clients was influenced by other lawyers who they say are their competitors.

In addition to the suspension, punishment for Chesson includes a $5,000 fine, an order to return funds from some of his clients, and a remedial plan.

The judge also recommended that Chesson be barred from state district court for a one-year period but there has been no action on that recommendation.

Chesson’s attorneys could appeal the ruling regarding his handling of bankruptcy cases but had not as of press time on Friday.

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Christian D. Chesson, attorney

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