Janet Brown Gets Year In Federal Prison For Bankruptcy Fraud; Attorney Says It Was Her Late Husband Who Masterminded Ponzi Scheme

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Janet Brown was sentenced Thursday morning to serve a year in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud.

Her attorney, Mike Little, said it was her late husband, Jack Brown, who was the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme that authorities said bilked "investors" out of some $12 million.

He said, "Ms. Brown thought her husband was successful. Ms. Brown was fooled."

Prosecutor Perry Piper said Ms. Brown was active at Brown's Tax Service in Soddy Daisy, where "many people were bilked out of millions of dollars. They lost their life savings."

Judge Curtis Collier said he was not considering the Ponzi scheme, but he said the bankruptcy fraud was a serious offense. He said, "Our bankruptcy system cannot work if people are not truthful."

Prosecutor Piper said Ms. Brown stated under oath at a bankruptcy hearing that she had turned over all her jewelry. He said three days later she turned in a bag of jewelry worth about $25,000.

Attorney Little said Ms. Brown voluntarily gave up the jewelry. He said, "At the time her world was falling apart."

He said Ms. Brown was having to give 24-hour care to her husband, whose leg had been amputated. He said the couple lost everything after they were forced into bankruptcy and had to move to her sister's house.

Attorney Little said Ms. Brown has been working for a physician group while out on bond.

Ms. Brown said she wants to get out and help provide for her family, saying that is all she has left.

A large number of Brown tax clients said Jack Brown began offering to invest their money for them at an extremely high rate of interest. Then the tax office suddenly closed and the investors found they would not be paid. A group of them forced the Browns into the bankruptcy.

The plea agreement says, "In 2013, the defendant was the subject of an involuntary bankruptcy petition filed under Chapter 7 (which is under Title 11 of the bankruptcy code), in the Chattanooga Division of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, No. 13-10281.

"The defendant testified at a meeting of creditors, under oath, that she did not have any additional jewelry (assets) hidden. That testimony occurred on April 16, 2013. The exact questioning was as follows: Jerry Farinash, the Chapter Seven Trustee, asked the defendant, "Have you turned over to me all of the jewelry that you own on the date that this involuntary bankruptcy was filed against you except for the three pieces that you just told me about?" Brown's answer was "yes." The three excepted pieces consisted of a golden wedding band, a high school ring and Janet Brown's mother's ring.

"Three days later, on or about April 19, 2013, the defendant turned over to her lawyer, Tom Ray, a bag containing a large amount of jewelry. Ray in turn relinquished the bag of jewelry to the trustee, Jerry Farinash. During the meeting of creditors, the defendant affirmatively stated that she had disclosed and relinquished all of her jewelry, when in fact she had not turned over the jewelry, and she had knowingly failed to do so. The jewelry was subsequently appraised and it has an approximate value of $25,000.

"As part of this plea agreement, the defendant admits that she knowingly concealed the aforementioned bag of jewelry in an attempt to hide the jewelry from the bankruptcy trustee and the bankruptcy court."



PHOTOS: Swearing In Ceremony At Convention Center

County officials were sworn in during ceremonies Tuesday morning at the Convention Center (click for more)

Woman's Body Found In River Was Latasha Nichols

Family members say the woman's body found in the Hiwassee River was that of 34-year-old Latasha Nichols. She was reported missing last month. The family said DNA testing was conclusive that the body was hers. Family members say they want to know what caused her death. The viewing will be Wednesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Jim Rush Funeral Homes in Cleveland. The ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)

Fast-Starting Vols Gear Up For Another Mobile QB

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a new week for Tennessee’s football team, but the challenge that awaits in Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon will be a familiar reminder of the one the Volunteers just completed. The Volunteers have a short week to prepare for Arkansas State, a team much like Utah State, which relies heavily on a dual-threat quarterback and a physical front line. ... (click for more)

Chris O'Brien And Andres Santiago Named To Southern League's Weekly Honors

Tuesday, the Southern League announced that Chattanooga Lookouts’ catcher Chris O’Brien has been named Southern League Player of the Week and pitcher Andres Santiago was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for the period of August 25-September 1.  O’Brien is the fourth Chattanooga Lookouts’ position player to earn a weekly accolade from the league this season while ... (click for more)