Two weeks before Robin Dalton, the public safety commissioner for Saratoga Springs, announced her candidacy for mayor on April 14, she filed for bankruptcy under her birth name, Robin Lakian.
The application for bankruptcy, filed April 1, 2021, with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York, indicated $ 172,000 that she owed the Internal Revenue Service for “taxes and certain charges. other debts ”owed to the federal government.
Asked Thursday about the bankruptcy application, Dalton denied the existence of such a deposit: “I literally never filed for bankruptcy,” she said. “I have no idea what you are talking about… I think I would know if I filed for bankruptcy.”
But the 44-page bankruptcy petition lists Dalton’s home address on Caroline Street, lists her job as “Public Safety” with the town of Saratoga Springs, details the number of dependent children she has and specifies the type of car she drives. The document filed on behalf of Lakian is labeled: “Official Form 101: Voluntary Petition for People Filing Bankruptcy.”
A receiver in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York confirmed on Friday that Robin Lakian filed for bankruptcy on April 1 and that the case was still pending. Dalton’s own lawyer admitted Friday night that she had filed for bankruptcy. The case was referred to Federal Judge Robert E. Littlefield.
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The bankruptcy petition does not list any creditors with debts against Dalton outside the IRS, but she has sought to consolidate her bankruptcy case with bankruptcy proceedings pending under the name of her husband, Matthew Dalton, who filed his own request in February 2020.
Robin Dalton said on Friday that after talking to her husband and their lawyer and accountant, she determined that her name “was attached to it (her husband’s file) simply because it was the advice of a counselor. legal “and said he was linked to one of his businesses. But she continued to deny having filed her own bankruptcy petition.
In a statement provided by Robin Dalton, Matthew Dalton said his Chapter 13 filing was for a business he owned, working directly with a Chinese factory.
“There was a dispute over tariff obligations and intellectual property rights that resulted in the relationship breaking up,” Matthew Dalton said in the statement. “My main activity remains intact and prosperous. “
The two bankruptcy cases each have their own file number and contain separate court records. On May 26, Robin and Matthew Dalton’s attorney requested a motion to consolidate the two cases, noting that “the debt is the same,” but this motion was ultimately dismissed by the judge in an August 12 order; the judge authorized joint administration of cases in the future, according to court records.
Mike Toomey, a Glens Falls-based attorney representing both Robin and Matthew Dalton in their bankruptcy proceedings, confirmed Friday evening that Robin Dalton filed his own bankruptcy application shortly after her husband filed his. . Toomey said they initially thought Robin Dalton wouldn’t need to file for bankruptcy, but ultimately decided it was better to do so.
“Initially, we wanted to protect Matt’s assets… he filed a case first, and we didn’t think Robin would have to do that,” Toomey said. “(Finally) it made sense for her to file her case.”
Toomey said the bankruptcy trustee opposes consolidating the cases into a single joint case, but the judge allowed the joint administration of the case, meaning the couple will only perform one. monthly payment as part of a debt repayment plan.
Dalton, as Robin Lakian, filed on April 1 to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a form of bankruptcy that allows people with regular income to work out a plan to pay off all or part of their debts over a period of usually three or five years. Chapter 13 plans give debtors a chance to save their home from foreclosure and reduce or pay off certain debts.
Dalton criticized the Daily Gazette on Friday for pursuing a story about his personal financial situation, arguing that the focus should be on other issues facing the city.
“There are so many issues facing the city right now, I hope that at some point you decide that they are more worth trying to embarrass the family (sic) and the reputation of the candidates, ”she said in a written message.
Lakian had not filed a repayment plan in her case, but her lawyer said it was because the confirmed repayment plan in her husband’s case would settle debts in both of their cases. Repayment plans, which must be filed early in the bankruptcy process, outline how much a debtor will have to pay each month to pay off unpaid debts, payments which, if not made on time, could result in a rejection of the debt. ‘case. If a case is dismissed, the debtor loses the legal protections provided in bankruptcy proceedings.
The original petition under the Lakian name also does not list “Robin Dalton” as another name she uses even though the second question of the bankruptcy petition asks the filer to list “all other names you have used in the past. in the past 8 years ”, including“ your marriage or maiden names.
The bankruptcy claims require debtors to list their assets and liabilities: in Lakian’s case, she declared $ 4,300 in assets – mostly the value of a car and other sundries – and $ 172,873 in liabilities, entirely owed to the IRS. (Her husband also lists the IRS debt, which their lawyer said was the same debt.) She earns $ 14,500 a year as a public safety commissioner. She does not mention the Caroline Street house as an asset, nor the house mortgage as a debt; these are listed in her husband’s petition, valuing the house at $ 720,000, along with other debts.
Robin Dalton in 2019 was elected the city’s public safety commissioner and announced in April that she plans to run for mayor as an independent on Saratoga Stronger Together’s new polling line. She argued that her current experience in municipal administration makes her the best qualified candidate to take on the role of mayor during the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Ron Kim, a candidate for mayor as a Democrat who also works as a bankruptcy lawyer (he is not involved in the Robin or Matthew Dalton case), said he did not think a bankruptcy petition should disqualify someone from a public service and noted that he had represented public officials in the past.
“Most of the people who come in are honest debtors,” he said, pointing to America’s long history of bankruptcy. “Two-thirds of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence have gone into some form of bankruptcy.”
He said that most of the people he has worked with on bankruptcy cases are good people who have had a hard time and the bankruptcy process exists for that reason.
“What I saw were people facing difficult circumstances who had to make a difficult choice,” he said. “I understand that the system is in place for people who have problems…. I wouldn’t criticize someone who has taken this step.
He said he informs his clients that bankruptcy proceedings are public documents and that if he was in the position of having recently filed for bankruptcy while running for mayor, he would let the public know. . “Judge for yourself,” he said of a hypothetical disclosure.
Heidi Owen West, a local business owner running as a Republican-backed mayoral candidate, said she “had no desire to comment on a candidate’s personal affairs,” but stressed the importance of “fiscal competence” when electing a mayor.
“When you are tasked with helping to develop a multi-million dollar budget using taxpayer dollars, you have to do it with wisdom, responsibility and honesty,” she said. “For over 30 years, I balanced budgets, paid payroll, paid my bills and my taxes; I take it very seriously, and those who are running for office should too.
Chris Obstarczyk, chairman of the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee, went further and argued that bankruptcy reflected financial management skills that were not suited to being the mayor of Saratoga.
“If this is true, it seriously calls into question his ability to run the city as mayor, especially in these tough economic times, and it shows that Heidi (Owen West) is the only candidate with the financial skills to be mayor.” , said Obstarczyk.
The Saratoga Springs mayoral candidates all have baggage:
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