Feds targeting dozens of Hilds’ Southside properties for potential forfeiture

The federal government would look to seize dozens of properties in and around Manchester, as well as a new brewery, donut shop and café on Hull Street, if it’s successful in prosecuting local mortgage executive Michael Hild.

New documents filed late last week in the criminal case against the embattled founder and CEO of Chesterfield-based Live Well Financial list in detail the assets owned by Hild and his wife, which the government claims “constitute proceeds of Hild’s fraudulent scheme.”

Michael Hild

Hild, who ran Live Well until its collapse into bankruptcy this summer, was arrested last month on counts of securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud.

The 44-year-old has pleaded not guilty and remains free on a $500,000 bond. His only comment publicly since his arrest last month has been through his attorneys, who stated “every business failure is not a corporate crime.”

A trial is set for October 2020.

The government had stated in previous court documents that it obtained a post-indictment restraining order to preserve assets owned directly and indirectly by Hild. But a full, specific list of the assets it is targeting was not filed in online court records until Friday.

Among the “forfeitable assets” that the government would plan to grab if Hild is found guilty are 29 properties in the Manchester, Blackwell and Swansboro neighborhoods in South Richmond.

The former Siegel’s Supermarket at 2005 Hull St. is part of a 17-parcel portfolio of properties the Hilds are asking to be rezoned. (J. Elias O’Neal)

Included on that list is an assemblage at 2005 Hull St., anchored by the former Siegel’s Supermarket building, which was listed for sale earlier this year for $12 million and the subject of a pending rezoning request.

Hild and his wife, Laura Dyer Hild, who is not charged in the criminal proceedings, acquired the properties for a combined $3.98 million in the last several years, while announcing business ventures they had in mind for some of the parcels.

Some of those ventures since have opened for business and are also on the government’s list of assets procured using allegedly ill-gotten funds. That includes The Butterbean Market & Café, Dogtown Brewing Co. and Hot Diggity Donuts, all of which are open on Hull Street.

The government also wants the ownership interests in LLCs related to the Hilds’ various businesses, including Gardenia LLC and Church Hill Ventures LLC, both of which the Hilds used to acquire their Southside real estate. Both of those entities are now in Laura Hild’s name, according to state records.

Also on the list is their Anderson’s Neck Oyster Co., Climax Beverage Co. and Urban Bleat Cheese Co., a fledgling goat cheese venture that lists its address as 1427 Hull St., one of the properties the government wants to seize.

In addition to the Siegel’s site, the bulk of the rest of the parcels the government is eyeing for forfeiture were also put up for sale by the Hilds in a separate listing last year.

Another recently unsealed document in the case includes an affidavit from Special Agent William Bolander of the FBI, who detailed his squad’s investigation of the Hild matter. It alleges that the scheme illicitly netted $65 million from lenders by fraudulently inflating the value of Live Well’s portfolio of complex reverse-mortgage bonds to induce lenders to loan the company tens of millions of dollars more than they normally would have.

“Hild personally obtained at least $20 million in proceeds from the scheme,” documents state. “Hild then utilized those crime proceeds to purchase various real estate and business interests.”

A former Capital One executive, Hild launched Live Well on April Fool’s Day 2005, eventually basing the company in the Boulders office park in Chesterfield.

The company, which originated, wholesaled and serviced reverse mortgages, grew to be listed among the region’s fastest-growing businesses as recently as 2014.

The company had upwards of 300 employees at one point, including at an office in San Diego, before collapsing with little notice or explanation in May.

He also is facing civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which he has yet to respond. The not-guilty plea does not apply to the civil charges.

Also charged in both the criminal and civil cases are Live Well CFO Eric Rohr and Executive Vice President Darren Stumberger. They have pleaded guilty in the criminal case and have consented to partial judgements on the civil matter. They are both cooperating with authorities.

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Hope Adams
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Hope Adams

I hope they get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I had the unfortunate experience to live in their apartments at 12th & Hull for 15 months. They were horrific landlords, would not keep the property safe and clean (although it was a brand new development), they let a neighbor of mine live with mold for months and then made her pay rent while they fixed it (she couldn’t live there for months). They chose to not renew my lease because I “dared to leave a voice message for Laura, asking to speak to her about the conditions… Read more »

Randy Foye
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Randy Foye

Can’t think of too many people who have racked up worse karma than the Hilds. There are stories coming out now of Michael treating Live Well employees like his personal slaves. Having them water his trees, convincing them to move in to his apartments and charging them extra rent in order to keep their jobs…

Ed Christina
Guest

Where are these stories “coming out”?

Don Kinner
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Don Kinner

What’s your deal? Are you a journalist trying to check sources? Or are you a friend of these monsters?

Don Kinner
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Don Kinner

I worked for the Holds and it was an awful experience, they treat people like garbage. And were scam artists in every venture I am aware of and that is several.
I witnessed firsthand their disgusting behavior towards others, I heard them directly say racist comments. Micheal is the worst but Laura is no better. Richmond will be a better community without these scumbags

Jeff Ensley
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Jeff Ensley

Not liking the Hilds doesn’t mean that every horror story that comes out about them is true. It’s a legitimate question.

Randy Foye
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Randy Foye

Ask any mid-level former employee of Live Well, or anyone who’s done RE transactions with them, or god forbid – anyone who has ever been a tenant of theirs – and you’ll hear things that make your blood run cold. It is an absolute TRAVESTY that Richmond doesn’t have an actual investigative paper to research, verify, and compile such stories. The press the Hilds have gotten is far, far too toothless.

Ed Christina
Guest

I’m just a curious bystander, if we could post gifs I’d post “guy eating popcorn”.

I just keep hearing allusions to stories , and I’d frankly like to hear them.

Randy Foye
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Randy Foye

Suddenly that 2020 court date becomes a liability. Government and his own lawyers are going to bleed him dry.

Paula Ogston
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Paula Ogston

I’d love to see an article on reactions from those who have lived in these neighborhoods for awhile. I read this article (https://richmondmagazine.com/news/features/bad-manners-and-broken-promises/), from last year, which centered around Hild’s proposed changes for the area. White privilege and institutional racism need to be discussed here. This guy is the worst 🙁

Jeff Ensley
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Jeff Ensley

I’m not remotely thrilled with the prospect of the Federal government acquiring that much property in my neighborhood but justice must run its course. If Hild is found guilty and the government seizes these properties, do they have an obligation to auction them within a certain period of time? I’m not worried about the neighborhood’s pace of growth unless the government sits on these properties and does nothing.

William Muse
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William Muse

I highly doubt the Federal Government wants the Hilds’ properties as an investment. If seized, they will be liquidating them to the highest bidder to generate cash to repay his creditors…

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

Very true, but the pace of that disbursement may be what ends up being bad. Based on appeals and other possible actions these properties may be tied up for a very long time to the detriment of the area being able to move forward as quick as it has been. Although, at the prices they will likely need to sell them at, when they do get sold it will likely be a boon for the area because a lot of properties will be in the hands of people for a price that allows them to do a lot with them.

Dan Warner
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Dan Warner

You could argue that the Hilds artificially inflated the market and pace of development beyond what was sustainable to essentially launder their ill-gotten millions, and this will slow things back down to what the neighborhood can support organically.

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

You could argue that, but you could also argue that they did not create the main demand. The hundreds of residential units already built and still being built in the area in large projects created most of the demand. They were a “smaller” player in residential based on the number of units. I would agree that they inflated the market, but that ay have actually kept others out of the market. When the fed sells these for what they are actually worth it could put them in the hands of people wanting to do something with them and they will… Read more »

Laura Goren
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Laura Goren

Note the use of “we” in the AirBnB host description for their Blackwell and Hull Street properties. I wonder what the Feds think of that given the apparent attempt to make it look like the properties are Laura Hild’s alone. “We are active renovators and community rebuilders in the Manchester Richmond neighborhood. Whether its fixing up a massive Southern Mansion, a cute little bungalow, or a mixed use building holding apartments, a brewpubs, a donut lounge or a market/cafe, we have done it.” https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/31406294?s=67&shared_item_type=1&virality_entry_point=1

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

Does not matter who owns them or controls them; enterprise corruption means that the illegal activities using Live Well funds bleed into any and all business even if they are “legal” in their operations.

Davis Samuelson
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Davis Samuelson

So how many of his upper management employees with all his businesses are going to get caught up in his mess by association?

Randall Hudgins
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Randall Hudgins

I would wager that the Hild’s met a lot of RVA-dot-gov’s most corrupt during their orgy of gentrification. Maybe their current circumstances will compel them to tell all.

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

Justin French’s disaster never brought down anyone but himself; but hey their is some hope I guess.

Ed Christina
Guest

Interesting.
All I have seen about the Hilds is they ran an investment scam to fuel real estate investing.

What corrupt city officials would be involved in this mess?

If you can’t name names, what positions or departments?