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Lawyer Accused of Hiding Money Finds Nearly $1M Stashed in Closet

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on November 03, 2010 9:55 AM

Many lawyers are not numbers people. The aversion to all things math may be a reason one enters the literature-heavy profession. Take South Carolina lawyer Harry Pavilack. He owed creditors and various other people more than $72.5 million. He claimed he only had $50,000 in assets. Being bad at math, he forgot the other $8.9 million he had, and the $1 million in cash he had stored away in his closet. Oops.

Yes, this is a post about the lawyer that hides $1 million in his closet. In all fairness, it was his office closet. The Sun News reports that Pavilack recently filed for bankruptcy claiming to owe more $72.5 million to creditors for mortgages and personal guarantees on his real estate ventures. The 70-year-old Pavilack began to reveal a sizable amount of stashed assets after the bankruptcy investigator assigned to his case "stressed the importance" of disclosing all his assets.

How (and why) exactly he stuffed close to $1 million in his Myrtle Beach office closet is still a mystery. According to the ABA Journal, Pavilack had, "taken cash out of his real estate corporations, transferred some assets to relative and friends, and opened bank accounts in Peru. Since February, Pavilack has conducted mainly cash transactions." The investigator concluded by noting that he may never know how much money Pavilack was hiding. It's safe to say that if he is comfortable storing $1 million in his closet, then the hiding possibilities are endless.

Weird? Yes. Illegal? Yes. Bankruptcy is a court-based process designed to give individuals and corporations a financial fresh start. In order to do so, being honest about one's finances is the first step. Put differently, before approving a bankruptcy application a debtor must show that his financial liabilities outweigh his assets. Without full disclosure of one's financial assets, it is easy to see the problem. Pavilack's alleged actions could very well be deemed both dishonest and illegal.

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