RIVERSIDE, California – An Ontario man who worked as a bankruptcy petition preparer (BPP) surrendered this morning to federal authorities to face criminal charges of lying to the United States Bankruptcy Court about his role in preparing petitions under assumed names and overcharging his clients – actions he took after repeatedly being ordered to cease his activities.
Hernan Martin Rojas, 49, who operated H.M.R. & Associates in Ontario, surrendered to special agents with the FBI after being named in an indictment returned on September 19 by a federal grand jury.
The indictment charges Rojas with four counts of making false statements in Bankruptcy Court. Rojas allegedly filed Bankruptcy petitions on behalf of clients from 2016 through this year that failed to disclose that he was the BPP. The filed documents falsely declared, under penalty of perjury, that another person had prepared the paperwork and that the clients were charged a legally permissible $200, when in fact Rojas had charged the clients substantially more, according to the indictment.
Rojas was found in contempt of court in 2013 for failing to abide by a 2012 injunction that prohibited him from acting as a BPP. As the contempt motion brought by the United States Trustee's Office pointed out, Rojas had actually violated two prior injunctions issued by Bankruptcy Court judges.
Rojas is expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
An indictment contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Rojas would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each count.