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April 14, 2021 - 4:34pm

Bankruptcy judge won't allow Tomaszewski to discharge three debts to victims of his fraud

A federal bankruptcy judge in Buffalo has ruled that three debts of former funeral director Michael Tomaszewski cannot be discharged under bankruptcy law.

The three debts are part of more than $3.2 million in liabilities Tomaszewski listed when filing for bankruptcy in February 2020. He initially filed for Chapter 11, a reorganization of debts, but changed the filing to a Chapter 7, forgiveness of all debts not covered by available assets, last month.

Yesterday, in a separate criminal matter, Tomaszewski entered a guilty plea to grand larceny, scheme to defraud, offering a false instrument for filing, and untimely burial. Over the summer, the 40-year-old Batavia native was charged with more than 200 counts of criminal conduct stemming from a scheme to divert deposits made on prearrangements for funeral services to his own personal use.

The amount of restitution he will owe former clients will be set at his sentencing on July 13. He faces a possible sentence from two and one-third to seven years in prison. The restitution order could approach $500,000.

In his ruling, Judge Carl L. Bucki cited a section of federal bankruptcy law that says a debtor cannot discharge any debt that was the result of fraud or misrepresentation. 

According to the ruling, Tomaszewski will remain liable for prearrangement deposits from individuals for $10,500, $8,000, and $8,000. Under bankruptcy law, the three individuals are entitled to priority repayment for the first $3,025 of each debt.

The bankruptcy proceedings only include debts listed in the filing. Not all victims of Tomaszewski are listed as claimants in the case.

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