San Jose Family Law Attorney comments on Fiduciary Duties
Ronald Miserendino, once a multi-millionaire, may live the rest of his life in poverty. According to an article on Trading Markets.com, the ex-millionaire’s plan to hide assets from his ex wife has been in a Milwaukee County jail since 2005 facing ten counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering. Miserendino built up a successful real estate management and development company called Trace Corp. After his spouse filed for divorce in 2001, Miserendino secretly set out to liquidate his company’s assets and to go into hiding. By the time the divorce was final, Miserendino had converted nearly $5 million to cash and stashed it in safe deposit boxes in Australia and several other states. In the family court, Miserendino had agreed to pay his now ex-wife $750,000 from the $2.9 million he had hidden in an Australian safe deposit box; he thought he would be able to keep the rest of the $2.9 million. However, the IRS is now bringing a civil action to collect back taxes and penalties, leaving him owing more than he is worth. In addition to back taxes and penalties, Miserendino also faces additional jail time.
In California, as in other states, the family code imposes on both parties the obligation to act in the highest good faith where transactions concerning the other party is involved. Among other duties, spouses are required to disclose all material facts and information regarding the existence, characterization and valuation of all assets in which the community has an interest; and to act in the highest good faith and fair dealing as to all activities that affect the assets and liabilities of the other party. Liquidating a community asset such as a business, and/or hiding funds would certainly violate the California Family Code. Therefore, in addition to possible jail time and sanctions for his federal offenses, Miserendino would likely have faced sanctions for serious violations of fiduciary duties owed to his spouse had their divorce been litigated in California.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, the team of attorneys at Sagaria Law may be able to assist you with your case. We have offices in San Jose, Fremont and Monterey and represent clients throughout the Bay Area in all aspects of family law. Contact our office for a free thirty minute consultation with one of our attorneys today.