Accusations continue to fly in from all sides of Michael Hild’s criminal court case, as the Richmond businessman’s fight to overturn his guilty verdict drags on.
The former Live Well Financial CEO’s lawyer alerted the court last month to the latest legal troubles of his former attorney Ben Dusing, who unsuccessfully defended Hild in his federal fraud trial last year.
Meanwhile, government prosecutors fired back this week, claiming Hild is behind an anonymous social media account apparently created to further sling dirt at Dusing and his associates.
In a July 29 letter to U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams, Hild’s new lawyer, Brian Jacobs, wrote of new disciplinary charges filed against Dusing by the Kentucky Bar Association.
The charges allege instances of professional misconduct from Dusing during custody cases he is a party to in Kentucky Family Court.
Both Hild and Dusing grew up in Kentucky, where Dusing still resides and keeps his law practice. The custody cases are the crux of Hild’s long-sought argument that he deserves an acquittal or at the very least a new trial. Hild claims those cases were a major distraction for Dusing during Hild’s three-week trial and led Dusing to provide wrongfully ineffective legal counsel.
Hild first made ineffective counsel accusations after the jury found him guilty on all counts related to an accounting scheme that toppled Live Well. He has remained free since the verdict.
In part due to bar complaints made by Hild, Dusing already has had his law licenses suspended indefinitely in Kentucky and neighboring Ohio.
The latest disciplinary actions from the Kentucky Bar make claims against Dusing of frivolous motions in court, disrupting a tribunal, attempting to falsify evidence and making false or reckless statements regarding the integrity of a judge.
Dusing’s prior suspension was also in part due to his threatening a judge in a widely reported video he posted on social media.
Hild’s camp has argued that Dusing’s legal troubles prove that he is uncredible and an affidavit he submitted in defense of Hild’s ineffective counsel accusations cannot be relied upon.
As he’s done with Dusing’s previous legal issues, Jacobs again asked Abrams to take these latest charges into account as she considers whether to allow Hild’s argument for acquittal or a new trial to continue.
“Because the government’s opposition to Mr. Hild’s motion for a new trial is based in key part on its stunning and counter-factual claim that ‘Mr. Dusing’s affidavit is credible,’ if the court does not grant Mr. Hild’s motion for judgment of acquittal, it should grant Mr. Hild’s motion for a new trial once it finds that Mr. Dusing is not credible,” Jacobs wrote in the letter to Abrams.
While Dusing’s issues tie back in part to his social media postings, Hild’s alleged activity on Twitter has caught the attention of federal prosecutors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tuesday sent a letter to Abrams, claiming Hild is behind an anonymous social media account using the handle “LiesAreLoud The TruthIsQuiet” and posting about Dusing, his co-counsel Katy Lawrence and others.
“The Government has obtained evidence that Hild is responsible for an anonymous Twitter account created for the sole purpose of harassing Dusing and others associated with his law practice,” adding that the account has since tweeted more than 100 times about Dusing and others, while tagging various media outlets.
Prosecutors said in the letter that IP addresses associated with a Comcast account belonging to Hild and tied to his address in Richmond were used to log in to the Lies Are Loud feed.
The letter states that those targeted in the tweets are potential witnesses in Hild’s fight to overturn the guilty verdict. Just as Hild questions Dusing’s credibility, prosecutors say the tweets call Hild’s actions into question.
“These postings raise serious concerns with Hild’s credibility and demonstrate efforts to dissuade Lawrence and other employees from their continued association with Dusing,” the prosecution’s letter states. “They also suggest efforts to retaliate against Dusing for disputing Hild’s allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel.”
The letter ends with the government asking Abrams to take the social media postings into account as she considers how to rule.
Both sides of the case have already appeared before Abrams to argue their side of whether Hild deserves a redo. It’s now up to Abrams, who likely will choose one of three paths: she could grant Hild’s request for a new trial or acquittal; deny his request, uphold the guilty verdict and set a sentencing date; or decide that more information is needed and call for an evidentiary hearing.
Hild faces a combined maximum of 115 years in prison on counts including securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud, though his sentence will surely be lower. He also faces a maximum fine of $5 million.
The government indicted and arrested Hild for helping mastermind a scheme to defraud Live Well’s lenders by falsely inflating the value of a portfolio of reverse mortgage bonds, in order to induce lenders into loaning more money to Live Well than they otherwise would have.
Hild’s defense at trial was built largely on arguing that the prices presented were based on the best estimate of their market value, despite them being difficult to value.
While Hild pleaded not guilty, two of his former Live Well lieutenants — CFO Eric Rohr and head trader Darren Stumberger — have pleaded guilty to similar charges and await their fate. Their sentencing dates have been repeatedly pushed back due to their involvement in the Hild case as cooperating witnesses for the prosecution.
Live Well’s bankruptcy liquidation, meanwhile, remains ongoing. The bankruptcy trustee has filed multiple lawsuits, including against Hild, his wife Laura and more than a dozen business entities tied to the couple seeking to recoup a total of $110 million in damages.
A message left for Jacobs seeking comment was not returned by press time. An email to Dusing also was not returned.