Richmond businessman Michael Hild’s last-ditch attempt to avoid prison time for his federal fraud conviction has been struck down.
Judge Ronnie Abrams on Tuesday squashed Hild’s calls for Abrams to recuse herself from his case, a tactic that could have potentially helped Hild wriggle away from a looming sentencing date later this month.
In a Dec. 28 letter to the court, Hild and his attorney had questioned whether the judge may have personal conflicts of interest similar to those that led to her recently recusing herself from presiding over the Sam Bankman-Fried legal saga.
Abrams made national headlines last month when she stepped away from the Bankman-Fried case in light of the fact that the law firm at which her husband is a partner had previously represented Bankman-Fried’s company FTX. That’s despite her husband not having personally been involved in that representation.
Hild’s attorney latched onto that same logic, arguing that the same law firm appeared to have previously represented several companies that were entangled with Hild’s case, including two of the largest creditors of Hild’s now-bankrupt mortgage company Live Well Financial.
Abrams ultimately wasn’t swayed.
“The Court was unaware of these representations until the filing of Hild’s letter, and my husband has had no involvement with any representation of these clients,” Abrams wrote in her response.
In declining to recuse herself, Abrams also cited “longstanding interpretations” of certain U.S. legal code related to judges disqualifying themselves.
Abrams’ swift denial ends Hild’s latest and likely last attempt to avoid prison time for the bond pricing scheme that defrauded Live Well’s lenders out of millions of dollars and caused the demise of the once-fast-growing Chesterfield-based reverse mortgage company.
Hild was found guilty on all counts after a three-week jury trial in April 2021.
Abrams last month struck down Hild’s calls for a new trial or to have his conviction overturned based on claims that his former attorney and childhood friend had conflicts of interest and provided faulty legal counsel during the trial.
Hild now stares down what appears to be an unavoidable sentencing date set for Jan. 27, at which Abrams will decide his fate.
He faces a maximum of 115 years in prison, though the sentence is sure to be far less. His sentencing hearing will be held in the federal courthouse in Manhattan.