Attorney-at-Law

IDENTITY CRISIS

In Uncategorized on 11/16/2020 at 16:44

No, neither psychological distress nor identity theft; today we have Lisa A. Bruno, 2020 T. C. Memo. 156, filed 11/16/20, wherein Judge Albert G (“Scholar Al”) Lauber cannot identify in what year Lisa got a theft loss (if CT law says it was theft, which it doesn’t). Lisa claims that when her loved-once failed to turn over property per their divorce decree, he stole from her.

Lisa’s uncoupling with loved-once involved dueling contempt citations (loved-once was one-time record-holder for most contempt citations in CT), property-grabs, cross-border LLCs, and bankruptcy adversary proceedings with loved-once’s Mama and Lisa’s successor in on the play both in bankruptcy court and the divorce court.

Although Lisa wants to deal with other years than the year at issue (including, without limitation, 2020, for which she hasn’t even filed a return), it boils down to two (count ’em, two) issues.

I’ll leave this to Judge Scholar Al. “Failure to transfer marital property is not an uncommon occurrence. Petitioner points to no caselaw or other Connecticut authority establishing that an ex-spouse commits embezzlement when he is held in civil contempt for failing to pay a marital property debt. Indeed, petitioner was herself held in contempt by the divorce court for her refusal to place in escrow Mr. Bruno’s $951,445 share of the proceeds from sale of the Spring Valley property. See supra p. 5. We doubt petitioner believes that she embezzled those funds, and it is not obvious that civil contempt orders directed against her ex-husband should produce a different result.” 2020 T. C. Memo. 156, at pp. 17-18. I’ll defer to CT counsel on that.

Next, even assuming a theft, what was the identifiable event that fixed the date the loss occurred? At year-end of the claimed loss year, Lisa had more than a million bucks she owed loved-once to offset what he owed her. Her lawsuit against Mama and successor was still ongoing. Lisa claims that when loved-once petitioned in bankruptcy in loss year, he claimed he had nothing but a claim against her.

Judge Scholar Al is too polite to reply “Yeah, roger that.”

“…(p)etitioner relies heavily on the assertion in his bankruptcy petition that he then had (apart from his claims against her) assets of only $2,500. We do not think that a reasonable person in petitioner’s position would have believed that assertion. Mr. Bruno was a successful financial professional whose annual income exceeded $2.1 million be- fore the divorce. At the time of the divorce he held assets of at least $5 million, corresponding to his and petitioner’s share of the marital property. Given Mr. Bruno’s profile as someone who repeatedly ignored judicial orders, the assertion that he had essentially no assets in October [loss year] was objectively implausible. And it is obvious that petitioner did not believe that assertion, because she proceeded to file a proof of claim against him in bankruptcy court, to file additional claims against [successor] in New Hampshire state court, and to participate in the bankruptcy trustee’s adversary proceeding against Mr. Bruno, [successor], and Mr. Bruno’s mother.” 2020 T. C. Memo. 156, at p. 21.

So there was a reasonable prospect of recovery, with the end not coming until after the last year at issue here.

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