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Prosecutors slam illegal scheme in high-asset divorce

For Fort Lauderdale residents facing the prospect of a high-asset divorce, one of the biggest concerns is ensuring protection of financial assets. There are a number of legal processes available to help husbands or wives protect the property they've acquired through hard work.

Unfortunately, sometimes a person will resort to illegal means in order to try to protect what they have. That might be what has happened in a case far from Florida, where a plastic surgeon is accused of driving thousands of miles in an attempt to hide millions of dollars in his divorce.

The Anchorage, Alaska, doctor was recently indicted on seven federal wire fraud counts, a prosecutor announced.

The court documents lay out the case against the 64-year-old surgeon, alleging that he set up fake companies in California, Colorado and in Central America to shield assets from his wife. In fact, he's accused of once having driven from Alaska to Panama (a trip of nearly 7,000 miles) as part of his scheme.

The doctor is also accused of juggling loans and bank accounts to prevent his wife from knowing the full extent of his holdings.

Now prosecutors have stepped into the case, seizing more than $4.6 million from a California bank account. They say the surgeon was attempting to funnel the money through a phony investment that would make it look as if he had lost millions of dollars, while he still held on to the cash.

His wife filed for divorce back in October of 2007. That's when her husband "set in place the scheme...to defraud (his wife)," and hide his financial information from her and the state court that was to hear the divorce case, the indictment states.

The indictment also alleges that the man once secretly drove all the way to Panama, toting cashiers checks worth more than $3 million. He deposited the money in a bank there, hoping again to hide the wealth from his wife and the court.

The indictment asks for the seized money to be forfeited, and also for the forfeiture of the money currently sitting in two Panamanian banks.

Clearly, if the charges are accurate, the doctor is in serious trouble; troubles that could have been avoided had he consulted with an experienced family law attorney about how best to legally protect his assets and get a fair result in court.

Source: Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage surgeon indicted for hiding millions in divorce," Richard Mauer, Sept. 20, 2013

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