San Diego, California - Michael Enriquez was sentenced in federal court Friday for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by falsely implicating a federal bankruptcy judge in prostitution, and further obstructing justice by fabricating emails and an electronic telephone contact to corroborate his lies.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant sentenced Enriquez to 27 months in prison, payment of a $50,000 fine and a $200 special assessment, and three years of supervised release, during which he must perform 250 hours of community service. In sentencing Enriquez, Judge Bashant noted that his conduct “was a lot more sophisticated than someone who just told a lie” and was the type of obstruction scheme that “threatens the whole judicial system.”
“Attempts to extort a federal judge with malicious lies are a direct attack on the Rule of Law, and today’s sentence reflects that such depraved criminal activity will be punished harshly,” commented Robert S. Brewer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of California.
Paul D. Delacourt, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said, "Mr. Enriquez provided the FBI with false information about a sitting federal bankruptcy judge but, following a thorough investigation, the FBI determined the judge had not engaged in the alleged activity and that Mr. Enriquez had knowingly lied to the FBI on numerous occasions and obstructed justice. The FBI will not tolerate those who attempt to undermine our judicial process for their own personal benefit. In this case, the FBI's fact finding resulted in the exoneration of a wrongly accused judge and the prosecution of Mr. Enriquez."
As detailed in the public record, Enriquez concocted these lies in an effort to assist DB, a litigant/debtor in an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding involving corporate entities connected to filmmaking. Apparently believing that the presiding bankruptcy judge favored his creditors, on multiple occasions, DB expressed to Enriquez a desire to disqualify the bankruptcy judge from the case. To help DB turn the tide of the bankruptcy proceeding, Enriquez falsely told DB that he had personal knowledge that the bankruptcy judge had engaged in prostitution. To corroborate this account, Enriquez created fake email records of the bankruptcy judge requesting escort services from an online escort service. Defendant also input the judge’s name and chamber’s telephone number into his phone contacts in an effort to corroborate that the judge was, in fact, a client of such services. After creating this bogus paper trail, Enriquez forwarded the emails to DB, knowing that the false accusations and fake emails would likely be used to extort the bankruptcy judge or otherwise influence the bankruptcy proceedings.
In or about early 2013, the relationship between Enriquez and DB soured. In an effort to seize some advantage from his duplicity, Enriquez identified DB’s creditors in the bankruptcy proceeding and arranged to meet two creditors, DM and PP, in New York City in February 2013. Unbeknownst to DB, at this meeting, Enriquez told DM and PP that DB had obtained information that the bankruptcy judge had frequented prostitutes, and that DB intended to use that information to influence the outcome of the bankruptcy proceedings. Enriquez did not tell DM and PP that he was the source of the information, that the information was bogus, or that he had fabricated the corroborating documents.
When PP suggested that he could help DM and PP by relaying his allegations to the FBI, Enriquez negotiated a $100,000 payment, which ultimately never materialized. Thereafter, on or about April 25, 2013, May 17, 2013, and on multiple occasions until in or about July 2016, defendant knowingly and willfully made material false and fraudulent statements to the FBI falsely implicating the bankruptcy judge in prostitution, and provided the FBI with emails and an electronic telephone contact that he had fabricated to corroborate his story.
A multi-year investigation by the FBI ensued, focusing initially on the allegations of bribery, extortion, and the conduct of the bankruptcy judge. Eventually, through painstaking effort, agents unearthed the truth: For no discernible reason at all, through malicious lies and fabricated documents, Enriquez attacked the reputation of a respected federal bankruptcy judge. U.S. Attorney Brewer commended the FBI agents for rigorously unraveling defendant’s lies and deception, and ultimately vindicating our judicial system.