Judge rules in victims’ favor


BATAVIA — A federal bankruptcy judge continues to rule in favor of victims of Michael S. Tomaszewski, ruling in the past week that eight debts are not dischargeable as part of Tomaszewski’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chief Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki this week and on April 15 ruled that the money owed to the victims cannot be discharged through bankruptcy because the debt was a result of fraud on Tomaszewski’s part.

Barclay Damon law firm of Buffalo is representing three of Tomaszewski’s victims, at no cost to the victims.

The firm said in a news release that the victims are among more than 100 people who are owed a total of more than $575,000.

Tomaszewski earlier this month pleaded guilty to felony charges and admitted stealing the money from clients at his Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral Home & Cremation Chapel.

Tomaszewski since 2009 had been stealing money that was earmarked for future funeral, burial and cremations.

The money was by law to be deposited in escrow accounts.

Tomaszewski filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020, six months before he was arrested. He listed more than $3 million in debts and about $1 million in assets.

He did not list any pre-need creditors as part of his filing.

After his arrest, however, Tomaszewski amended this bankruptcy petition to include the victims.

“Tomaszewski filed a plan that was opposed by the victims and ultimately denied confirmation by the bankruptcy court,” Barclay Damon said in the release. “Concurrently, he was indicted on criminal charges in connection with the pre-need payments.”

In March, Tomaszewski had his bankruptcy filing converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation.

It was unclear how many of Tomaszewski’s victims have sought to have their debts declared non-dischargeable.

Genesee County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing restitution claims as part of a pre-sentence investigation.

As part of Tomaszewski’s guilty plea, he must pay restitution to all of his victims. Some have been repaid, Assistant District Attorney Kaitlynn Schmit said.

Tomaszewski pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and to a public health law violation for storing a body for 10 months at the funeral home, without proper burial.

He faces up to seven years in prison when sentenced in July.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1