HOUSTON -- A vending operator based here has been arrested on charges of bankruptcy fraud. According to the indictment by a Houston grand jury, Christopher Fields, 49, filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation case in October 2010 in Houston. During bankruptcy proceedings, he allegedly testified under oath that he had not received payment from any employment during the 60 days prior to the bankruptcy filing and he had not received any income during the previous three years.
Fields owned an unincorporated business named Good Game Investments, which consisted of snack and beverage vending machines located in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, TX, as well as in San Diego and Los Angeles, CA.
Fields also testified in other bankruptcy proceedings that his mother owned some 200 vending machines that he serviced, and that she paid him for his expenses, according to the indictment. During a deposition in the bankruptcy process, Fields' mother allegedly stated that she never received any money from the vending machines and she had nothing to do with the maintenance, locations, payment of taxes or collection of money from them.
The indictment further alleges that at the time Fields filed his petition, he owned approximately 1,100 vending machines, and he maintained control of the locations, maintenance and income generated by them. He allegedly concealed and converted property of the bankruptcy estate from the trustee, creditors and the bankruptcy court in order to "deceive, evade and prevent" the trustee from collecting and liquidating all the total assets of the estate for the benefit of creditors.
The bankruptcy fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment without parole and a $250,000 fine, upon conviction. Fields also faces up to five years in prison for each count of concealment of assets, false oath and false declaration in addition to a $250,000 fine.