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(Reuters) – A Manhattan bankruptcy judge on Thursday ordered real estate attorney Mitchell Kossoff, who is the subject of a criminal investigation, to cooperate with the Chapter 7 trustee overseeing the liquidation of his law firm.
Within a week, Kossoff and his criminal defense attorney, Walter Mack of Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack, are scheduled to meet with Chapter 7 administrator Al Togut, who has researched everything from bank and credit card records to checklists. clients, Chief Bankruptcy Judge of the United States David Jones ordered.
Togut claimed that Kossoff’s refusal to provide documents affected his ability to administer the Kossoff PLLC estate. The meeting between Togut’s team of lawyers from his law firm, Togut, Segal & Segal, and Mack should clarify which documents are available and which documents Mack believes are protected by the 5th Amendment, Jones said.
Any dispute between the parties over which documents can be turned over should be referred to him, Jones said. But the judge warned Mack and Kossoff, who are said to be under investigation by both the Manhattan District Attorney and the U.S. District Attorney in Brooklyn, that he wanted specific arguments as to why certain documents could not be given to the trustee.
“This is an involuntary bankruptcy of an entity that needs order and needs a trustee to do its very important job,” Jones said, granting Togut movement to appoint Kossoff as a responsible officer of Kossoff PLLC.
Mack has repeatedly claimed that complying with Togut’s document requests could be a waiver of Kossoff’s 5th Amendment rights. Even telling Togut what documents he had access to would infringe those rights, Mack said in Thursday’s hearing.
Jones said Mack and Kossoff’s current 5th Amendment arguments are too broad, and he noted that Mack at the hearing offered to produce certain documents to the trustee.
“We know at least from today’s hearing that Kossoff’s attempt to use a blanket assertion of 5th Amendment privilege to deny me documents will not prevent documents from being handed over to me,” he said. Togut said in an email.
Kossoff appeared to disappear in April amid a spate of civil lawsuits from clients and others, although he has since appeared in several cases through a lawyer. The lawsuits include allegations that Kossoff failed to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. Kossoff’s mother, New York philanthropist Phyllis Kossoff, accused her son of forging his signature “in order to get millions of dollars.”
Kossoff’s firm was forced into bankruptcy last month by a group of creditors who claimed the real estate law firm had embezzled more than $ 8 million in escrow funds.
Mack did not respond to requests for comment.
The case is In re Kossoff PLLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 21-10699.
For Togut: Neil Berger, Brian Shaughnessy, and Minta Nester of Togut, Segal & Segal
For Kossoff: Walter Mack de Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack
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