ABINGDON — U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen likened the case of Russell Geyer — a Saltville man who faked his death to hide assets from the federal bankruptcy court and assumed the identity of a Florida attorney — to a “made for TV plot.”
On Wednesday, Geyer, 50, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to one count of bankruptcy fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity fraud and one count of contempt of court, Cullen announced Thursday.
“In an effort to game the bankruptcy system, Mr. Geyer devised a made for TV plot that ultimately collapsed under its own weight,” Cullen said in the release. “The audacity of his fraud scheme not only shocks the conscience, but it offends the integrity of our judicial system.”
According to court documents, Geyer devised a scheme to defraud the court through a series of deceptive statements designed to hide assets and maintain control of collateral.
These actions included, but were not limited to repeatedly lying about fake medical conditions, including prostate cancer, bone cancer, cardiac issues, a brain aneurysm and pneumonia, the release states.
On Aug. 30, 2019, the attorney working for Geyer informed the court that he received an email, purportedly from Geyer’s wife, stating that he was dead. But Geyer sent the email, according to the release.
At a Sept. 5, 2019 hearing, Mrs. Geyer testified that her husband was alive, and neither she nor he had been out of town and in the hospital for the serious medical conditions claimed by Geyer throughout the case, the release states.
During the hearing, Geyer’s attorney read an email he received from an attorney in Florida indicating that they sold some of the assets involved in the bankruptcy proceedings without the Geyers’ knowledge.
The email further stated that he had complete control of Geyer and told him to kill himself. The attorney concluded the email with “I am on a plane out of the country” according to the release.
The investigation determined that the Florida attorney actually exists but had nothing to do with this case. Instead, Geyer used the attorney’s name and a bogus email account to send these emails without the attorney’s knowledge, the release states.
Further investigation revealed that Geyer assumed the Florida attorney’s identity to fraudulently obtain $70,000 from his wife, who he told he was going to receive more than $1 million in a settlement from a case that the Florida attorney was handling, the release states.
Geyer said he needed money to pay the attorney’s fees before the money would be released. Geyer then used a bogus email address and an app that disguised his voice to pose as the Florida attorney and to confirm that a settlement was imminent.
None of it was true, according to the release.
Geyer faces up to life in federal prison. He will be sentenced Aug. 6 .