Fall of the house of Eisen Part I

by Cynthia Dizikes
Published April 27, 2006

Manhattan School Board trustee Bill Eisen campaigned
on a platform of fiscal and ethical integrity while filing multiple bankruptcies to stave off foreclosure of his home.

Manhattan Beach school board trustee Bill Eisen has been involved in at least eight bankruptcies and has perpetuated two decades of litigation through forgery and perjury, according to allegations in U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents.
At least three people – two attorneys and one creditor – have testified under oath that Eisen forged their names on court documents and at least three judges have called his integrity into question. Allegations against him include forging the signature of a homeless lawyer on more than 50 court documents, as well as filing a false creditor’s claim against his own estate.
Last year, the court-appointed trustee charged with handling Eisen’s most recent bankruptcy case – which began in 1993 – accused Eisen of manufacturing a fake foreclosure against his $1.5 million Manhattan Beach duplex as a means of “hindering, delaying, and defrauding creditors.”
Eisen has not been charged with a crime, though U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Erithe Smith said in 2000, “…I will be referring this entire matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review and investigation.”
In February of this year, Smith essentially halted all other legal proceedings in the case to investigate Eisen’s conduct, including accusations that Eisen had repeatedly submitted falsified claims and declarations to her court.
This week, the attorney for the bankruptcy trustee filed a motion to have Eisen declared a “vexatious litigant.”
A vexatious litigant is legally defined as a person who files actions “intended to harass the opponent.”
“The clear and convincing evidence in this case demonstrates that, ultimately, the debtor has been responsible for the filing and prosecution of numerous forged pleadings and papers filed in this court and appellate courts,” wrote John Tedford, attorney for the bankruptcy trustee. “These actions are consistent with the debtor’s long-standing pattern of engaging in frivolous and vexatious litigation in the state court, bankruptcy courts, and appellate courts, and the debtor’s abuse of the bankruptcy system in order to delay and defraud his creditors.”
If the allegations of bankruptcy fraud are referred to the U.S Attorney’s Office for prosecution, Eisen could enter a new, much more dangerous phase in his long, legal history. Each count of forgery is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Eisen, a retired CPA, has represented himself throughout his bankruptcy proceedings.
“I don’t think there’s any potential for [criminal action],” Eisen said during a three hour interview Saturday evening “because nothing I’ve done has been criminal.”
Eisen was elected to the school board last fall and ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2003. He also made two unsuccessful bids for the Manhattan Beach City Council.
“Just because I’m accused of something doesn’t mean I’ve done it,” he added.
Over the years, as one of Manhattan Beach’s most outspoken public watchdogs, Eisen has criticized public officials for lacking integrity and has repeatedly accused them of gross financial mismanagement. During his 2003 and 2005 school board campaigns Eisen’s primary issues were fiscal responsibility and balancing the district’s budget.
Curious happenings
Eisen’s own budget has been unbalanced since the 1980s when he began a pervasive pattern of fraudulent behavior, according to the attorneys of two of his creditors and the trustee.
“I mean the thing has taken on a life of its own,” said William Radding, who has been the attorney for creditor William Kengel for over 10 years. “There have been times when I found myself involved in this case asking myself, ‘Is this, what I went to law school for?’ It is a case that has become to me something that goes beyond simply collecting money for Bill Kengel. It goes to the integrity of my profession.”
Another attorney, Bruce Landau, has been following Eisen’s legal trail for 20 years. Landau’s involvement with Eisen began when he represented a group of creditors who were seeking to foreclose on Eisen’s Crest Dr. duplex in Manhattan Beach around 1984.
At the same time, a woman named Judith Day had filed a complaint against Eisen because, she claimed, he had reneged on a contract to sell his property to her.
Over the next eight years, Eisen transferred the interest he held in the duplex back-and-forth between himself and an entity, Crest 3514, which he created. During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Eisen established a pattern of transferring the interest and then filing bankruptcies for both himself and Crest 3514. The bankruptcies had the effect of blocking the foreclosure efforts against his home. “The bankruptcies were largely timed with stopping the commencement of trial in the Judith Day case,” said Radding. “He would come in at the beginning of trial and say, ‘Oops! I’ve filed bankruptcy again.’”
Judge Vincent Zurzolo dismissed one of the Crest 3514 bankruptcies on January 14, 1992 after finding that Eisen had failed to disclose his connection with the entity and had proposed his reorganization plan in bad faith. Three months later, he found Eisen back in his courtroom with another bankruptcy. At an April 15 hearing, Zurzolo made clear his intention to dismiss Eisen’s case again.
“[I]t’s clear to me that this debtor is not going to tell a straight story and the truth unless an objection is made…I find, and I rarely find a case where I can say this, I find that I have absolutely no doubt that this debtor is not using a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case for an appropriate purpose…”
Three months later, on April 15, 1992, even before Zurzolo had issued his dismissal, Eisen transferred ownership back to Crest 3514 and caused the entity to file another bankruptcy. According to the petition filed, the attorney representing Crest 3514 was Vincent Quigg. On May 28 1992, Quigg filed a declaration that his signature on the petition was a forgery.