Shoe Bomber Richard Reid Asks Court to Declare Him Bankrupt

Understand the complexities and nuances of the Bankruptcy Code to better advise clients and prepare for court.

By Daniel Gill

Dec. 5 — Infamous “shoe bomber” Richard Reid sent a letter to the court that convicted him, asking the court to declare him bankrupt in order to discharge $256,082 in debt arising from his attempt to blow up a passenger aircraft in 2001 ( USA v. Reid , D. Mass., No. 1:02-cr-10013, Motion to Declare Bankruptcy 11/15/16 ).

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts docketed the letter, entitled a “movement,” as a motion and set a time table for responses to be filed by the U.S. Attorneys’ office. An attorney for the National Consumer Law Center told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 2 that he expects that the bankruptcy motion will be denied as procedurally defective.

Richard Reid achieved international infamy when passengers and crew foiled his attempt to ignite explosives hidden in his boots while airborne on a flight from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22, 2001.

As set forth in the judgment entered against him, Reid pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts, including attempted murder, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted destruction of aircraft, for which he received a life sentence plus additional years, and he was fined $250,000 plus more than $6,000 for restitution.

In his “motion,” Reid said that he couldn’t pay his fines. “I hereby request that as I am not now, nor will I—I believe—ever be, able to pay this fine that a declaration of bankruptcy be entered in my favor and that this fine be vacated in keeping with that.”

John Rao, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, with a focus on consumer debt and bankruptcy matters, told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 2 that dismissal is the most obvious outcome.

Reid did not file a proper petition for bankruptcy in the bankruptcy court, requesting a chapter of relief (different chapters, such as Chapter 7, 11 or 13 are available to individuals seeking protection under the Bankruptcy Code).

Even if the District Court were to refer the matter to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachussetts, dismissal would still be the likely eventuality, Rao told Bloomberg BNA. None of the information typically included in a bankruptcy petition—identifying the chapter of relief, listing creditors and assets, for example—was included, nor was there a declaration that Reid had undergone the credit counseling course required by the Code.

As recently as Nov. 22 a district court held that even incarcerated debtors are required to complete the credit counseling and financial management course prerequisite of being a debtor.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Gill in Washington at dgill@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jay Horowitz at JHorowitz@bna.com

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Try Bankruptcy on Bloomberg Law