In the wake of one “not guilty” plea entered for each of the five counts against former Live Well Financial CEO Michael C. Hild in a bond fraud case, federal authorities are now stating that they are within their rights to seize the majority of assets Hild owns in the Richmond, Va. area, according to court documents obtained by RMD. This seizure, they say, is in an effort to stifle any attempts Hild may make to frustrate the government’s forfeiture efforts.
In addition to serving as the founder and CEO of reverse mortgage lender Live Well Financial, Hild also owned and operated several different Richmond-area businesses and rental properties with his wife, Laura Hild. The businesses span upscale restaurants and breweries; goat cheese and oyster companies. Many of those business and property interests are now subject to restraint and forfeiture by the federal government.
Assistant United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman submitted an affidavit to the Southern District Court of New York late last week in support of the government potentially seizing numerous forfeitable assets which “constitute proceeds of Hild’s fraudulent scheme,” the filing reads.
Among the listed assets are bank accounts in the names of Michael and Laura Hild, ownership interests in no fewer than eight businesses owned either directly or indirectly by the Hilds, along with 29 separate individual owned properties situated in Richmond.
“…there is probable cause to believe that the forfeitable assets and all property traceable thereto are subject to restraint and forfeiture […] as proceeds of the commission of wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit the same,” the affidavit reads in part. It also describes the legal basis for the court’s authority for either seizure or the imposition of an asset restraining order.
Without asserting such authority for seizure or restraint, Berman writes that Hild or his associates “will attempt to frustrate the government’s forfeiture efforts by dissipating or concealing the assets the government seeks to forfeit in this criminal prosecution,” he writes. Entry of the order will allow the government to “maintain the status quo and avoid the dissipation” of the affected assets, which will be forfeited to the government when a verdict is reached.
Late last month, Hild was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in connection with an alleged bond fraud scheme committed between 2015 and 2019. Alleged co-conspirators and former Live Well executives including EVP Darren Stumberger and Chief Financial Officer Eric Rohr were also charged in the alleged scheme; they have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with authorities.
Hild was released shortly after his arrest on an unsecured $500,000 bond, and pleaded “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. If convicted, the maximum possible sentence Hild faces is 115 years in prison, and the charges also carry a maximum fine of $5 million, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
A trial date has been set for October, 2020. Meanwhile, a separate civil case has been filed against Hild, Stumberger, Rohr and Live Well by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the same charges.
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. 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 prior 12 months.