Man Pleads Guilty to 8 Bankruptcy Fraud Counts

A Sierra Madre man who collected nearly $500,000 from firms that owed money to a bankrupt fish company has pleaded guilty to eight bankruptcy fraud counts, a federal prosecutor said.

Michael Knighton, 33, also pleaded guilty to one felony count of using a false Social Security number to open a bank account in San Diego, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Angela Davis. He has admitted bilking firms that owed money to Pan Pacific Fisheries, a Terminal Island corporation that was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings from 1995 until last year, Davis said.

Using the name Stuart Sumner, Knighton got a list of those who owed Pan Pacific money. The firm turned over that list because Knighton said he was interested in buying Pan Pacific's account receivables, the prosecutor said. Knighton then created a forged letter that appeared to be on Pan Pacific letterhead and directed the firm's clients to send their payments to a new address, which was a mail drop, Davis said.

Davis said Knighton took in nearly $230,000 between December 1995 and February 1996.

Knighton faces up to 45 years behind bars and a $1.75-million fine when U.S. District Judge Lourdes G. Baird sentences him June 1, Davis said.

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