Tuesday, January 27, 2009


January 27, 2009

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Baron's Stores, Inc. was confirmed using tampered, altered and falsified documents.

Sonya L. Salkin, Baron's bankruptcy counsel, and a Region 21 Chapter 7 Panel Trustee, admitted that she was responsible for the preparation and submission of the amended Plan of Liquidation and the amended Disclosure Statement confirming the 1997 bankruptcy of Baron's. The documents were tampered with and altered and submitted for confirmation in direct contravention of the instructions of the United States Trustee, David Butler, and Assistant United States Trustee, Ramona Elliott.

Meryl M. Lanson, Officer of Baron's, retained a forensic document expert, Michael G. Kessler of Kessler and Associates. Mr. Kessler, declared under the penalty of perjury, on May 2, 2008, that “someone tampered with these documents, modified them, and/or altered them resulting in these documents not representing what they are presented to be. These documents have been falsified.”

Sonya Salkin has never hired an independent expert to refute Mr. Kessler's sworn declaration. Sonya Salkin refuses to be deposed pertaining to the falsified documents. Sonya Salkin has admitted to The Florida Bar that she never ascertained whether the documents that confirmed the bankruptcy of Baron’s were falsified. Sonya Salkin has filed for protection from the courts regarding any discovery pertaining to the documents. Baron's, Norman Lanson, and Meryl Lanson have been denied their due process rights to depose Sonya Salkin on the falsified documents. Judge Jeri Beth Cohen has protected Salkin by denying discovery on the falsified documents. Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, with malice and intent, has obstructed justice causing further damage to Baron’s, its creditors, and the Lansons. Such denial is a violation of the constitution of these United States of America.

The Courts and The Florida Bar continue to protect Sonya Salkin from any discovery and protect her from being deposed regarding the falsified documents that confirmed the bankruptcy of Baron's.

The falsification of the documents that confirmed Baron's bankruptcy has caused multi millions of dollars worth of damages to Baron's and its creditors, and was the reason that two hundred people lost their jobs. All the assets of Baron's were distributed amongst the lawyers, and their undisclosed insider connections, who conspired to destroy Baron's, its principles, its employees and its creditors for their own selfish greed. This is a common practice in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.


NOVEMBER 6, 1991


Mismanagement, conflicts of interest, and political cronyism are hindering the effectiveness of the Justice department’s U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee Program, witnesses told a House Judiciary Committee panel today. In response to this testimony and numerous complaints he has received, Congressman Jack Brooks (D-Texas) announced that he is requesting the General Accounting Office to conduct a thorough investigation of the program.

“A smoothly functioning bankruptcy system is vital to the well-being of the American economy,” said Brooks, Chairman of both the Subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law and the full Judiciary Committee, “and Congress created the U.S. Trustee Program to be a cornerstone of that system. Unfortunately, the examples of abuse that have come to our attention provide a clear signal that the U.S. Trustee Program is simply not getting the job.”

The U.S. Trustee Program, housed in the department of Justice, performs a wide range of administrative functions in bankruptcy cases, including monitoring cases, holding creditors meetings and reviewing fee requests. For example, in Chapter 7 liquidation cases, the U.S. Trustees establish the supervisory panels of private trustees who act as fiduciaries for individual debtors’ estates. U.S. Trustees are also intended to serve as the watchdogs of the bankruptcy system to ensure fairness and ferret out fraud and abuse.

“Since 1987,” continued Brooks, “17 former trustees and five of their employees have been convicted of embezzling funds in excess of $6.1 million from bankruptcy estates – and I am afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg. Given the increasing numbers of bankruptcy filings at a time of deep and lingering recession, we cannot afford to take chances with the Trustee Program.”

Lawrence A. Beck, a bankruptcy attorney from San Antonio, Texas, criticized the U.S. Trustee System from the debtor’s viewpoint. He encountered disorganization and resistance from the local U.S. Trustee when he sought help in investigating gross irregularities in the private trustee’s handling of the debtor’s estate. “Most individual debtors who enter bankruptcy with significant assets,” said Beck, “eventually conclude that they have become trapped in a crooked, dishonest system which is run for the benefit of the panel trustees and his hand-picked attorney, and which is supervised by incompetent bureaucrats.”

George Francis Bason, Jr., a former bankruptcy Judge, told the Subcommittee that despite a promising start in 1978, the U.S. Trustee Program has suffered “significant deterioration” in recent years. According to Bason, political favoritism and conflicts of interest are among the chief causes of this decline.

“Cronyism has come to have too large a role in appointments in the U.S. Trustee system,” said Bason. “Competent people at the local level are leaving in disgust…and too many of the remaining personnel in both the national and the local offices are simply not qualified by background and experience to do their jobs efficiently and well.”

With respect to conflicts of interest, Bason told the subcommittee that as a judge he presided over two cases with national and international significance in which he “found that intense pressure was exerted by the national office upon the local office of the U.S. Trustee to abandon the U.S. Trustee’s proper independent role as a neutral, impartial administrator and instead to act as a servant and advocate for the narrow self-interest of one party to the litigation.”

Larry E. Kelly, Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, echoed Bason’s charges of political favoritism in the Trustee program. Kelly also testified that the “major defect” in the Trustee Program is “a lack of devotion and purpose in its very existence from the uppermost levels of the Justice Department. I have, with recent exceptions, seen no indication that the program has any pride or discernible purpose in its leadership.”

Brooks concluded: “I, for one, am not going to stand by while those caught up in the crippling economic crisis facing this country are subjected to further abuse by those entrusted with the fair administration of the bankruptcy system. I am determined to see that the U.S. Trustee Program gets back on track.”

Sol Stein, 1999/04, wrote Bankruptcy: A Feast for Lawyers that reveals how the Chapter 11 experience aids the bankruptcy bar and rarely the debtor company and its creditors. Many of us fondly remember Stein and Day Publishers, part of the 70% of bankruptcies that are filed to heal but wind up killed by the Trustees of U.S. Bankruptcy system.

Like Baron’s Mens Stores, Stein and Day existed for decades providing jobs and creatively serving public and private needs of a thriving community.

Elia Kazan, winner of five Pulitzer prizes and two Academy Awards, in his autobiography said, "My publisher, Sol Stein, was my producer, my editor; Sol Stein was my director. Stein had books on bestseller lists for nineteen consecutive years until he had to file for Reorganization under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Basic Trust is a social staple that underpins all commerce. Failure of trust in a capitalistic society causes hoarding, greed, and moral failure motivated by fear of scarcity. Ever since good faith, fair dealing, and good will were removed as the backdrop for contracts and regulation, the United States has sunk into a moral and ethical chasm that is now evidenced by potentially the greatest economic crisis of the century. It was brought on by failure of those in power to serve responsibly. CEO’s forgot who sustained the business that afforded them fat bonuses - Trustees are not trusted.

Baron’s Mens Stores never forgot the community, their employees, and to this day, for the past fifteen years, have been fighting for their creditors to be fairly treated by having reopened Baron’s bankruptcy, exposing the fraud, including but not limited to the fact that Baron’s bankruptcy was confirmed using falsified documents. The unnecessary bankruptcy of Baron’s confirmed by fraud perpetrated by attorneys cost Florida a business that had sustained for fifty two years.

The United States cannot sustain business as usual. Each person who reads this must take action for self protection and posterity.

As a direct result of the U.S. Trustee’s failure in the case of Baron’s, a fifty two year old multi-generational family owned company, was lost. We live in an “economic world.” The unnecessary loss of Baron’s through fraud and abuse in the bankruptcy system cannot be viewed in terms of the loss to the owners of Baron’s alone – that is the tip of the iceberg. The real losses caused by FRAUD and ABUSE go further in a cascade of damages emanating from but this one case.

Let’s look at an Economic Estimation of the Loss of Social Capital Damages to American Society arising from the failed reorganization of Baron’s.

- Baron’s was an S-Corporation producing taxable income to its
owners and therefore Income Tax Payable of $100,000.00 per

- Loss of 10 years Income Tax equals $1,000,000.00.

- Baron’s employed 200 workers with a payroll of $4,000,000.00 per year.

- The lost FICA tax employers share over the past 10 years at 7%
(rounded) $280,000.00 x 10 years equals $2,800,000.00.

- Baron’s employees’ share of FICA would be mitigated by re-employment of workers; however, many workers were unable to find re-employment. Between unemployment compensation paid, and lost income tax, and lost employee share of FICA, it is estimated that the COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT over 10 years equals $2,300,000.00.

- Baron’s paid Sales Tax to the State of Florida. Baron’s sales per year were $20,000,000.00 at 6% over 10 years equals $12,000,000.00.

- Baron’s also supported non-profit organizations through the Corporate entity, or the Owners, estimated at $20,000.00 per year over 10 years equals $200,000.00.



In my opinion, through the research that I have done, I believe, this is a criminal racketeering enterprise in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 152, §1623, §1341 and §1346.

Just prior to posting I received the “New York Lawyer – Legal Times” article by David Ingram – “Rove Subpoenaed to Testify About U.S. Attorney Firings.”

At the end of the article, House Judiciary Committee Chairman, John Conyers, Jr., who issued the Subpoena, said in a statement “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, its time for him to talk.”

Sonya Salkin, Esq., Baron’s counsel, and a United States Chapter 7 Panel Trustee, must answer for her admitted participation in the documents that confirmed Baron’s bankruptcy. After years of stonewalling by Ms. Salkin, her attorneys, and co-conspirators, it is time for her to talk as well. Sonya Salkin must be deposed and our due process rights must be invoked NOW.

Submitted by: Meryl M. Lanson