Dorothy Brown aide may have lied on bankruptcy petition - FOX 32 News Chicago

First Lady`s friend, Dorothy Brown aide, may have lied on bankruptcy petition

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By FOX 32 News Investigative Reporter Dane Placko & the Better Government Association

FOX 32 NEWS EXCLUSIVE: CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A longtime friend of First Lady Michelle Obama could be in hot water, after FOX 32 News and the Better Government Association uncovered documents showing the woman didn't mention her new, six-figure taxpayer-funded job when she declared bankruptcy.

Yvonne Davila was hired in May as Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown's spokesperson at $104,000 annually, according to county records.

But, when Davila filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork the following month, she didn't disclose the new job, even though she was required by law to do so. Then, at an August meeting for creditors, Davila was asked under oath whether "all the information contained in those (bankruptcy) documents is true and correct." She answered yes, according to an audio recording of that meeting.

Davila is a longtime friend of First Lady Michelle Obama, who is quoted in multiple news articles about her friendship with the First Lady.

In September, an anonymous letter was sent to the bankruptcy court and the U.S. Attorney informing them about Davila's new job, and that she may have lied on her forms and during her testimony.

Still, Davila was granted Chapter 7 "discharge" status in October. It's a designation for those filing bankruptcy that can erase some or all debts, and is generally considered to be more desirable than Chapter 13, where the debtor has to pay back some of the money to creditors.

One expert says had Davila disclosed the income from her new Cook County job, she may not have received Chapter 7 relief.

"I have a lot of clients who make less money than she does but are still considered to be making too much money to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the only available relief to them is Chapter 13," said Charlie Glanzer, a Chicago attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law but isn't involved in Davila's situation. "But with Chapter 7, these cases are truly case-by-case."

Davila says it was her attorney's fault that the bankruptcy petition was filled out before she knew she had the new job, and her attorney was slow to file it.

Davila's attorney Matthew Miller says this was an honest mistake that Miller - not Davila - was to blame for.

"Ms. Davila did not intentionally attempt to mislead any party in the proceeding, and I take responsibility for the oversight and the subsequent corrective measures," Miller said via email.

Earlier this week, after FOX 32 asked about the omission, Miller appeared in federal court to try to correct the record, filing some revised documents.

"This is an agency, the Circuit Court Clerk's office, that is a repository, the guardian of court records, and here you have a high-ranking official in that office whose own court records had some serious problems," said Robert Herguth, an investigator with the Better Government Association.

Dorothy Brown issued the following statement: "During these tight economic times, we know that there are many people who find themselves in the difficult situation of having to file bankruptcy. We sympathize with Ms. Davila. Since her case is a federal case, there is no conflict of interest as it relates to her employment with the Clerk's Office."

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