“Below Deck” star Captain Lee Rosbach was once the victim of a brazen bankruptcy fraud scheme. Someone filed for bankruptcy in Georgia federal court in his name, while he was out at sea, and it led to some unfortunate headlines for the Bravo TV star. The case was eventually cleared up, but court documents obtained by Heavy show what actually happened.
Rosbach said in an affidavit filed in 2017, which can be read here, that he was made aware of the fraudulent filing in his name when someone called him to say there were articles on the internet claiming he had filed for bankruptcy. Rosbach said in his affidavit that he didn’t file the bankruptcy documents and he didn’t authorize anyone else to do so either.
The fake bankruptcy filing claimed Rosbach owed between 1 to 49 creditors an amount between $100,001 and $500,000. According to the court documents, the bankruptcy case was eventually closed, while an investigation was launched into who actually made the filing. It does not appear that the probe into the fake bankruptcy case ever led to federal charges against anyone.
One of the Two Men Investigated by Federal Officials in the Fraudulent Bankruptcy Filing Was Later Arrested in a $600,000 Fraud Case
The fake Chapter 13 voluntary bankruptcy filing was made in the Northern District of Georgia on March 6, 2017, according to court records obtained by Heavy. The filing uses Captain Rosbach’s full name, Harold Lee Rosbach, and lists the Bravo star as living at a Decatur, Georgia, home where he and his attorneys later say he hadn’t lived for several years.
The filing also used an incorrect Social Security number, according to court documents. The bankruptcy filing even included a notarized document that included Rosbach’s forged signature. The document was alleged to have been signed by Rosbach in front of a notary on March 6, 2017, at a time when Rosbach said he was actually working, according to court records.
The filing didn’t include several necessary documents, including financial statements, lists of assets and liabilities and the names creditors, those who were supposedly owed money. Just days after the documents were filed, the trustee’s office, which oversees bankruptcy cases, began realizing something was wrong, records show.
Guy Gebhardt, then the acting U.S. Trustee for the region, launched an investigation, according to court documents. Gebhardt wrote in a court filing, “The United States Trustee believes that Mr. Rosbach did not authorize the bankruptcy filing and that the voluntary petition was completed, signed, and filed with the Court without Mr. Rosbach’s knowledge or consent. … The United States Trustee has reason to believe that the voluntary petition had been submitted for filing to the Clerk of Court by Maurice Clarence Jeffries.” Gebhardt sought to question Jeffries in connection to the case.
Gebhardt also sought to question another man, Edward Tinsley, who had notarized a document that had a fraudulent version of Rosbach’s signature on it, court records show. “The voluntary petition is accompanied by a Pro Se Affidavit purportedly signed by Mr. Rosbach. [Docket No. 3]. The Pro Se Affidavit shows that it was notarized by Edward Tinsley,” Gebhardt wrote. “The United States Trustee considers it necessary and appropriate to investigate the circumstances surrounding the preparation and filing of the voluntary petition and therefore believes it is necessary to conduct an examination of Edward Tinsley pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 2004.”
Tinsley and Jeffries were called in for interviews in April 2017. In May, Gebhardt filed a motion confirming that Rosbach did not file for bankruptcy. “The United States Trustee believes that someone filed the voluntary petition in the name of Harold Lee Rosbach for purposes of invoking the automatic stay in order to prevent the foreclosure of real property located at 2823 Fairoaks Road, Decatur, Georgia 30033. While Mr. Rosbach is the title owner of the Fairoaks Road property he has not resided in the property for several years,” Gebhardt wrote.
He added, “The signature that appears on the voluntary petition does not belong to Mr. Rosbach. The social security number shown on the petition does not belong to Mr. Rosbach. Upon information and belief, the unauthorized filing of this bankruptcy case has … caused Mr. Rosbach great inconvenience and expense.” A judge granted the motion closing the case, ruling that Rosbach did not file for bankruptcy himself, records show.
It doesn’t appear that any criminal charges were filed against Jeffries or Tinsely in connection to the bankruptcy case. But Jeffries was arrested in 2019 in Florida in a case accusing him of trying to defraud a Palm Beach County man out of $650,000, the Palm Beach Daily News reported. He and another man were accused of stealing $160,000 from the victim.
“Police said Jeffries … conspired to commit a ‘complex’ scheme to defraud the Palm Beach man, which included falsifying his driver’s license, stealing his debit card number, cloning his cell phone and blocking his access to the account by canceling his Bank of America debit card,” the newspaper reported. Jeffries pleaded guilty to several charges and is facing up to seven years in prison, records show.
Rosbach Said He Was at Sea When His Phone & Email Started Blowing Up With Messages From Concerned Friends & Family Who Read About His Bankruptcy
Rosbach told TMZ in 2017, “I was at sea. So, it was like, getting all these emails and phone calls and my phone is blowing up. And I’m going like, ‘I mean, I love y’all, but what’s going on?’ They said, ‘Well your bankruptcy. We had no idea.’ I said, ‘What bankruptcy? I’m not bankrupt. I don’t owe anybody.'”
Rosbach added, “The Department of Justice got involved and they’ve isolated two individuals and I’ve given them the name of a third. And a company. I have no idea who these people are or what their motivation might be or if they’re a part of something larger. I just have no idea. And I’m going, ‘Why would you do this?”
The “Below Deck” star continued, “It’s devastating. I mean, it gets splashed all over the internet that you’re a deadbeat, you don’t pay your bills. It’s detrimental to my career. It’s detrimental to just me as an individual, because I place integrity as one of those things that you either have it or you don’t. I’ve always prided myself on that. And for somebody to just blatantly and so openly question that, it just really pisses me off. I want that pound of flesh.”
In 2022, he talked to Heavy about the spotlight he has been under as part of “Below Deck.” He said during the exclusive interview, “When you look at the totality of everything over the years, there is a price to be paid by being in the spotlight, but it’s all worth it. It has given me a platform to be myself and help other people along the way.”
Rosbach added, “No one ever prepares you for what will happen to your life, and it will certainly never be the same. The biggest perk thus far is certainly having gained a platform to speak about causes that I care about, plus access to doors that would normally not be open. It’s up to me to figure out how to use my platform and do good with it, and I’d like to use it to make an impact on people in a positive way.”