Jury finds former Live Well Financial CEO Michael Hild guilty of fraud

Michael Hild was charged with securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud. (BizSense file)

A federal jury in Manhattan found Richmond businessman Michael Hild guilty of five criminal counts on Friday for his role in a massive bond pricing scheme that toppled his once fast-growing mortgage company Live Well Financial.

The verdict came after half a day’s deliberation and brought an end to a three-week trial that included Hild taking the stand in his own defense with an at times emotional testimony.

Hild was found guilty on all counts he faced, including securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud. He was arrested on the charges in 2019, which coincided with the shuttering of Live Well.

The government claimed Hild helped mastermind a scheme to defraud the company’s lenders by falsely inflating the value of a portfolio of reverse mortgage bonds, in order to induce the lenders into loaning more money to Live Well than they otherwise would have.

“Lenders were hoodwinked into lending far more than they otherwise would have,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted Hild’s case, said in a prepared statement posted after the verdict Friday.

Prosecutors claimed Hild personally pocketed more than $20 million as a result of the scheme from 2015-2019. The ruse collapsed in part when the true value of the bonds was discovered by Live Well’s lenders. That left the company holding debt worth far more than the purported value of the bond collateral.

“The house of cards came crashing down with the unwinding of Live Well and the revelation to lenders that the bond portfolio had been overvalued by $200 million,” the U.S. Attorney’s statement said. “Now, Michael Hild awaits sentencing for his crimes.”

Hild is set to be sentenced on Aug. 20. He had pleaded not guilty and had since remained free on bond and continues to remain out on bond until sentencing.

Hild was represented in the case by Kentucky attorney Benjamin Dusing, who was a childhood friend of Hild’s. Dusing wasn’t available for comment after the verdict.

The five counts call for a combined maximum of 115 years in prison, though his sentence will surely be lower. He also faces a maximum fine of $5 million.

Hild’s punishment will be decided by U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams.

While Hild pleaded not guilty and left his fate to a jury, two of his former lieutenants  — former Live Well CFO Eric Rohr and head bond trader Darren Stumberger — pleaded guilty to similar charges and cooperated with the government as key witnesses in the trial. They now await sentencing later this summer.

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Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
4 months ago

Hip Hip Hooray!

Ted Perez
Ted Perez
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

RTD should publish his new mug shot.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
4 months ago
Reply to  Ted Perez

I am ready for this to get downvoted to oblivion, but it does bring up a good point. Certain people seem to get actual mug shots put in the RTD, and other people get either a proffesial headshot, or a family photo, put in the paper.
Anyone want to speculate as to WHY these different tranches of humanity are treated so differently?

Dan Warner
Dan Warner
4 months ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I was wondering the same thing when the trial opened, and I went looking for Hild’s mugshot, but it turns out that a few years ago a federal court made it so that federal mugshots are no longer immediately available to the public because they are “embarrassing and humiliating information”.
https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2016/07/mugshots-federal-criminal-suspects-225546

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Warner

Thanks Dan!

Vicki Croisetiere
Vicki Croisetiere
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

Karma!

Ted Perez
Ted Perez
4 months ago

The Federales came hard on this one. Long hard time is ahead. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Vicki Croisetiere
Vicki Croisetiere
4 months ago
Reply to  Ted Perez

Exactly

Zirkle Blakey
Zirkle Blakey
4 months ago

Appreciate you staying on top of this one. Thanks for the reports!

kay christensen
kay christensen
4 months ago

So, is he free on bond until sentencing in August?

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
4 months ago

But he said he was innocent and it was all a misunderstanding. He had no earthly idea how his guilty employees did all this under his nose. How can that be?

I would only imagine next month BizSense will run an article on his wife’s new house renovation business.

kay christensen
kay christensen
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

Yes, he was just “along for the ride”… Think Bernie Madoff- hopefully, Hild’s fate will be similar to Bernie’s.

Vicki Croisetiere
Vicki Croisetiere
4 months ago

I love how he openly wept on the stand. We rented from him last year and we were affected by the pandemic and he could’ve cared less.

Vicki Croisetiere
Vicki Croisetiere
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

Accounting was his blind spot. So lame. I hope his wife experiences all of the hardships their former tenant’s have. Not to mention all of their lies. #SkylarWhite

Ted Perez
Ted Perez
4 months ago

The Hild properties will soon be raked by the Federales.
Anyone renting from them will get a new owner. Until then, it would be hard to evict and hard for Hild to collect rents.

Vicki Croisetiere
Vicki Croisetiere
4 months ago
Reply to  Ted Perez

I learned from my mistake, but who would’ve thought I’d have rented from Richmond’s Bernie Madoff.

Lionel Hutz
Lionel Hutz
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

Unfortunately, the feds can’t go after Hild and the wife for the property transfers. At least, not criminally. But they can (and I believe have) seized a number of his properties. Will be interesting to see if they attempt to clawback any remaining properties that were transferred to the wife in the run-up to charges

Vicki Croisetiere
Vicki Croisetiere
4 months ago

You reap what you sow!

Robbin podolak
Robbin podolak
4 months ago

My son rented from this person and was effected by the pandemic he could of cared less about the situation. Things were left broken unsafe conditions. He locked my son out and took everything he had and has yet to return anything along with his security deposit. He is true meaning of a slum landlord despicable person. KARMA is all I can say he will be a great boyfriend in jail.