Robert Kubick knew time was running out when he buried $450,000 beneath homes of relatives in Oregon, asked his wife to hide his vast collection of big game trophies and used his teenage daughter as a front for $1.2 million in property.
Creditors would soon be lining up to collect what remained of the fortune he had amassed as one of Anchorage's most successful real estate developers. If he could hide enough cash, jewels and property from federal Bankruptcy Court, he could one day resume his life as a millionaire, leaving those who invested in his deals to lick their wounds.
But his plans began to crumble when friends and family started to talk. And on Friday, one of the Donald Trumps of Anchorage's spectacular '80s building boom was sentenced to almost five years in federal prison. He pleaded guilty last year to felony bankruptcy and tax fraud.
Prosecutors described Kubick's case as the biggest individual bankruptcy fraud in the state's history.
''He was a brilliant, or shall I say conniving, man, '' said William Barstow, the government-appointed bankruptcy trustee in Kubick's case.
In a web of deceit that stretched from Anchorage to Wyoming, Kubick, 58, used friends and family as fronts for his investments, created ''shell corporations'' to store cash, and hid valuable property -- from a stuffed polar bear to a three-carat diamond ring.
In the end, Kubick managed to hide more than $2 million in assets, a U.S. district judge determined Friday.
He was so effective that Barstow, who has spent six years trying to uncover Kubick's assets, still doesn't believe he's found them all.
''Only Bob knows where they are, '' said Barstow, who will continue searching.
Forty creditors -- from National Bank of Alaska to a former school teacher -- have filed more than $15 million in claims against Kubick's estate.
Kubick, a science teacher turned real estate magnate, shrewdly capitalized on Alaska's oil boom in the '70s and early '80s, developing hundreds of properties -- from South Anchorage's Independence Park subdivision to the Resolution Plaza office building at Third Avenue and L Street. But when the oil boom went bust, so did Kubick, and he filed for bankruptcy in 1991.
The law requires anyone who files for bankruptcy to list all his assets, right down to the value of the clothes on his back.
One of Kubick's most effective ploys for hiding assets was to use his family members as fronts.
''Kubick was at the center and directed and manipulated a great many people . . . his daughter, his sister, his lawyers, '' said Judge John Sedwick.
In what Sedwick described as a ''pattern of using and abusing his relations, '' Kubick had his daughter, Kimberly, sign documents that made it look like she owned millions of dollars worth of property when she was 18 or 19 years old.
''She was a pawn in someone else's game, '' said Richard Sutliff, a lawyer for Kimberly Kubick.
Kimberly Kubick and other members of Robert Kubick's family, all of whom were granted immunity from prosecution, signed statements saying Kubick used them to hide his assets.
But in more than a day of hearings to determine Kubick's sentence, it was not the people he fooled, the children he used, or the creditors he gypped that were the focus of testimony.
For a man who was often valued for the size of his checkbook, Kubick's future hinged Friday on how well he could minimize his actual holdings and the amount of assets he concealed.
That's because in a bankruptcy fraud case, the more money an individual tries to hide from the government, the greater his or her sentence can be.
Hours were spent throughout Thursday arguing over the value of Kubick's assets -- from whether hunting trophies of endangered species could legally be sold, to how changing real estate markets might affect a property in Wyoming.
Prosecutors referred to a giant poster in the middle of the courtroom showing furs, elephant tusks and graphics of a piggy bank meant to represent accounts held under the names of ''Tinker Inc.'' and ''Timer Inc., '' corporations used to hide more than $100,000.
The poster hinted at the life Kubick once lived as an accomplished big game hunter in a home in an exclusive neighborhood on Campbell Lake.
In the hunting book ''Bloodties, '' author Ted Kerasote described Kubick wearing a gray, pin-striped shirt and golden suspenders and standing by his pool table as looking like a ''Victorian gentleman relaxing at home.''
The description was a sharp contrast to the man wearing the white pajama-like outfit of a prison cook asking a judge for leniency Friday.
Judge Sedwick described Kubick as a bright but ''egocentric man.''
Kubick painted himself in far humbler hues Friday.
''After I filed bankruptcy, I lived a fairly Spartan life. . . . I slept in a small office with a mattress and hot plate and tried to make it work, '' he told the court.
He said the fraud plan was ''probably the only time in my life I lied.''
But those he hurt along the way found it hard Friday to summon up sympathy.
''I know there was a time when Bob could have done the right thing and he didn't. Not only has he hurt me and my wife, but our whole family, '' said Larry Whitmore, a former teacher who said Kubick owes him hundreds of thousands and has ruined his carefully laid retirement plans.
In the past few months, Kubick launched a campaign among friends and family trying to get their support in persuading the judge to show leniency. Kubick got prominent people to write letters praising his economic contribution to Anchorage, the judge said. Those letters are under seal and unavailable, said a prosecutor.
Kubick tried recently to contact his daughter through her attorney in an attempt to persuade her to recant her statement against him, prosecutors said. Kimberly Kubick, now in her mid-20s, refused.
His efforts to reopen dialogue with his estranged family were unsuccessful, Sutliff said.
Prosecutors argued for a harsher sentence than the five years Kubick received. Kubick, they said, had to be forced from his home in Mexico to face indictments, had continued to lie about his assets after being indicted and then attempted to obstruct justice by trying to get his daughter to change her testimony.
Most of those arguments fell flat with Sedwick, who could have sentenced Kubick to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
''All my career I could work things out, '' Kubick told the Sedwick on Friday. ''This is the first time I couldn't talk and work it out.''