Boulder spinal surgeon pleads not guilty to bankruptcy fraud, money laundering charges
Court records show Cathleen Van Buskirk listed $3.1M in liabilities in 2014 bankruptcy
Cathleen Van Buskirk sits inside the cockpit of her Cirrus SR22-Turbo plane outside her home adjacent to Erie Air Park in this 2011 photo that accompanied a profile of her in The Denver Post. (Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post)
The Boulder spinal surgeon indicted on charges of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering claimed more than $3 million in liabilities in her Chapter 7 filing in 2014 and listed her Erie house for sale at $3.45 million in August.
Cathleen Van Buskirk was indicted Dec. 4 on charges of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets, fraudulent transfer and concealment, and money laundering, according to court records. She was arrested Wednesday.
Van Buskirk — who runs Alpine Spine Center, P.C., at 4745 Arapahoe Ave., in Boulder — appeared in custody at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Denver on Friday. She pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a judge set her bond at $150,000.
Federal prosecutors allege in the indictment that in 2014 and 2015, Van Buskirk "devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud her creditors through a bankruptcy proceeding."
The assets she failed to report, according to the indictment, included $46,000, as well as 200 U.S. silver dollars, foreign currency, gold coins and one diamond ring. Van Buskirk also transferred around $170,000 to several companies that prosecutors said she controlled even though they were registered to her sister or an employee.
The indictment said Van Buskirk fabricated invoices from those companies to hide her true relationship to them.
Van Buskirk filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 25, 2014, and in that filing reported $2.7 million in assets and $3.1 million in liabilities, including about $1.7 million in debt and a pending $1.4 million lawsuit filed against Van Buskirk by a bank.
Van Buskirk listed her monthly net income at $22,427 and reported her monthly expenses at $19,366, including more than $10,000 in housing payments.
Van Buskirk listed her Erie home at 90 Cessna Drive in Weld County on her bankrputcy filing as valued at $900,000, along with a rental home in Santa Fe, N.M., valued at $436,490.
While the Erie home is still listed as owned by Van Buskirk in Weld County property records, she put the home — which was featured in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles in 2010 — up for sale for $3.45 million in August.
In a 2011 profile published by The Denver Post, Van Buskirk said she bought the property because it backed up the airport and allowed her to fly her "gleaming Cirrus Turbo SR-22 single-engine airplane with advanced avionics."
In that story, Van Buskirk also discussed owning a Porsche Boxster, a Range Rover and a Vespa scooter that she kept in the hangar at her house, which she called "Enticement Alley."
In the bankruptcy filing, Van Buskirk listed the Vespa as inoperable and valued it at $500 and said the Range Rover was leased. The plane and the Porsche were not listed.
The plane shown in the property listing photo is currently registered to an LLC connected to a person in Boulder, according to aviation records.
According to bankruptcy records, the courts granted Van Buskirk a standard discharge and were awaiting a trustee's report before closing the proceedings.
The indictment did not specify what led investigators to look into Van Buskirk.
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