Hild accuses lawyer, calls for acquittal or retrial as sentence looms

Michael Hild has been convicted of fraud relating to an alleged bond pricing scheme at Live Well Financial. (BizSense File)

Michael Hild does not come down without a fight.

The beleaguered Richmond businessman is struggling to break free from a criminal conviction and potential jail time – and he does so by throwing the blame on his childhood friend turned defense lawyer.

Hild filed a motion last month in Manhattan federal court for a post-conviction acquittal, or at the very least a new trial, arguing that his previous legal team was unfairly ineffective during his three-week trial in part because allegedly undisclosed conflicts of interest. .

The effort comes as Hild awaits his conviction after a jury found him guilty on all counts for his role in an alleged bond pricing scheme that brought down his Chesterfield-based mortgage company , Live Well Financial.

Armed with a new lawyer, Hild maintains that his former lawyer Benjamin Dusing and co-lawyer Katy Lawrence were secretly pleading several custody cases in Kentucky with two mothers of Dusing’s children before and during Hild’s trial in April.

“This is a case concerning an accused who should never have been convicted at trial, and who was denied the opportunity to mount an effective defense at trial because his lawyer was working secretly in serious disputes of interest resulting from the lawyer’s own fault, “Hild said recently. Court filing states.

Hild’s camp argues in the 50-page dossier that Dusing and Lawrence kept their disputes hidden from Hild and the court for fear of being fired or losing their ability to use the Hild case to delay cases in Kentucky. Lawrence is said to have helped Dusing in the Hild case while also representing him in the Kentucky custody cases.

Hild claims Kentucky affairs have been a major distraction for Dusing and Lawrence as they actively advocated from a distance.

Attempting to illustrate an example of how the two cases coincided, Jacobs argues that Dusing and Lawrence asked the Kentucky court to delay these proceedings during the Hild trial. The court ultimately dismissed the claim on April 29, the day of oral argument in the Hild trial.

Jacobs alleges that Dusing faced the threat of jail time and the possibility of disciplinary proceedings and a witness corruption investigation, all related to the Kentucky cases.

“Mr. Hild appears to have unwittingly funded the ‘most important litigation’ in Mr. Dusing’s life to the detriment of his own case,” Jacobs said in the court record.

The record cites that the right to a conflict-free lawyer is part of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.

Hild also claims that Dusing misapplied him when he reached out in January 2020 after learning of his legal issues. The two grew up together as children in Kentucky.

Beyond the charges against Dusing and Lawrence, Hild’s new attorney, Brian Jacobs of New York law firm Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, also argues that his client should be acquitted “because the evidence at trial did not failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Hild committed any of the crimes charged.

In particular, Jacobs focuses on the prosecution’s presentation of Live Well’s bond pricing practices. The US attorney’s office argued that the fast-growing company had recovered by fraudulently inflating the prices of its reverse mortgage bonds and lying to lenders about their value, at Hild’s behest.

But Jacobs says Hild never intended to defraud anyone. He argues that the company’s pricing methods, including an important method called Scenario 14, were not based on inflated values ​​but rather an effort to determine precise values ​​for the bonds.

He claims that Live Well’s pricing model was simply superior to the rest of the industry.

“It was not a crime for Mr. Hild to try to ‘profit’ from the ‘more accurate assessment of the fair market value of Live Well,’ the record says.“ Evidence at trial did not prove that Live Well distorted bond values, or that Mr. Hild intended to defraud. “

Hild’s efforts towards an acquittal or a new trial continue, with the next step requiring the government to table its response to the latest documents filed.

The government argued that it could not do so until Dusing had the opportunity to respond to the allegations against it. The judge ordered Dusing to do so under oath in an affidavit.

Dusing, reached by BizSense by email last week, said he would comply with the judge’s order and make no comment beyond that.

And as the process continues to unfold, the arguments have at least one desired effect: The judge agreed that Hild’s September 10 sentencing date can be pushed back if necessary to let the attorney drama unfold.

Hild has been convicted of five counts, including securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud, which require a combined maximum of 115 years in prison and a maximum fine of $ 5 million.

Jacobs, reached by phone last week, said Hild’s recent cases speak for themselves and he’s anxious to let the case go to court.

The Manhattan legal fight isn’t the only one Hild has on her plate.

He and his wife Laura were sued last month by the trustee overseeing Live Well’s bankruptcy case. This multi-faceted affair looking for $ 110 million for the assets of the bankruptcy, including the possibility of taking control of the vast real estate holdings from Richmond to Richmond.

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