After being charged by the U.S. government in an alleged $140 million bond fraud scheme last week, former Live Well Financial CEO Michael C. Hild has pleaded “not guilty” to all charges against him and will be tried in the Southern District Court of New York next fall, based on court filings obtained by RMD.
On Thursday afternoon, Hild made an appearance in the district’s Manhattan courtroom in front of Judge Ronnie Abrams, where he was formally arraigned and entered a plea of “not guilty” to each of the five counts against him: of conspiracy to commit securities fraud; of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud; of securities fraud; of wire fraud; and of bank fraud. Abrams set a trial date of October 13, 2020.
Pretrial submissions for the case are due on September 24, 2020, while the final pretrial conference has been scheduled for October 8, 2020, five days before the trial itself is set to commence.
Hild has been charged with fraudulently inflating the value of a portfolio of bonds owned by his former mortgage company, Live Well Financial, in order to induce securities dealers and financial institutions into loaning the company more money. The charges allege that Hild inflated his own salary by approximately 700 percent in the process.
If convicted, the maximum possible prison sentence for Hild is 115 years, and the maximum possible fine is $5 million, according to a previous statement by the United States Attorney’s Office.
Live Well’s former CFO and EVP were also charged in the scheme, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office previously stated that they have both pleaded guilty and are cooperating with federal authorities.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Hartman and Jordan Estes will represent the United States in the case, while Hild will be represented by attorneys Steven Feldman and William Donnelly.
This is the latest in a series of unfolding events concerning the abrupt closure of Live Well Financial, which RMD learned about on May 3. The closure was followed by more than 100 lay-offs at the company’s Richmond, Va. headquarters, which led to the filing of a class action lawsuit from a former employee attempting to recover lost wages. Live Well intends to challenge that suit.
Counsel for the creditors involved with the forced bankruptcy filing also indicated that Live Well’s financial activities gained the attention of both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), both of which are conducting separate investigations into the company and Hild. That interest culminated with the FBI’s arrest of Hild for alleged securities fraud at the end of August, along with subsequent civil charges levied by the SEC.
Due to its origination volume prior to closing, Live Well Financial is still technically a top 10 reverse mortgage originator for 2019 based on August endorsement data compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI). It was ranked at number 8 as of August with 892 endorsements over the last 12 months.