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Plastic surgeon convicted after hiding assets in divorce

Concealing assets or other important financial information can be tempting during an emotionally charged divorce, but doing so typically causes much more harm and legal troubles than anything else. As an equitable distribution state, New York family law requires that all marital property in a divorce be divided between two parties according to what is fair. Any type of property settlement based upon only partial or incomplete asset information cannot be truly equal for either party.

Prompted by his wife filing for divorce, an out-of-state plastic surgeon packed up millions in both cash and marital assets and left the country. No one in his family or at his place of work was aware that he had taken a prolonged trip outside of the country, with his first stop being in Costa Rica. There, he established two different bank accounts worth over $350,000. A significant amount of gold was also stored in a safety deposit box there. One additional account was established under a dummy corporation in Panama.

The plastic surgeon did not reveal information about the secret accounts except for the one opened under a fake company, although he did submit falsified paperwork claiming that he would not be able to withdraw any of his alleged investment until years in the future. While these claims apparently passed through the divorce process without much issue, the deception was flagged by U.S. agents when he tried to withdraw the money and bring it back to America. He was ultimately convicted of tax evasion and wire fraud.

Not only is the concealing of assets in this fashion a crime, it also prevents divorcing couples from ever reaching a truly equitable divorce settlement. In general, most couples in New York can reach that type of agreement through a negotiated settlement. However, in instances when one party suspects that the other might be concealing important marital assets, it is sometimes necessary to proceed to court where a family law judge can provide further judgment on the matter.

Source: Forbes, "Surgeon Hid Money In Divorce, Is Convicted of Tax Evasion, Faces Up To 95 Years Prison", Robert W. Wood, Nov. 6, 2015

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