Former Michigan Supreme Court Judge Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

March 6, 2013
by The Law Office of Steven L. Schwartz

Domes

It is being reported that Former Diane Hathaway, the Michigan Supreme Court justice who resigned in January, pleaded guilty to charges against her.

Hathaway is accused of engaging in various acts of fraud. The allegations include the attempted concealment of a Florida home that she and her husband conveyed to a relative so that the couple would be eligible to sell their Michigan home through a short sale, which required them to falsely, the allegations claim, assert financial hardship.

Through the use of short sales, homeowners are allowed to sell their homes for less tan the amount that is due on the mortgage. It provides a significant financial benefit to individuals who can no longer afford to pay the mortgage, but wish to avoid foreclosure. For this reason, short sales are supposed to be reserved to certain financial circumstances.

Government lawyers say that Hathaway, and perhaps her husband, transferred their Florida property to a relative, thus relieving themselves from technical ownership, so they could then demonstrate financial hardship, and enable themselves to sell their Michigan home, which carried a mortgage of an estimated $1.4 million. Such a conveyance is referred to as a strawman transaction, since when used fraudulently, it isn’t intended to stand.

Prosecutors stated that they will pursue potential jail time for Hathaway, whom is also a licensed real estate broker. Authorities claim that in addition to attempting to conceal the Florida home, she also liquidated retirement accounts and made statements that she was planning to retire from the Supreme Court, both of which would affect her income, in order to further defraud the bank.

Hathaway resigned in January, due to the allegations, leaving her seat on the court open. Governor Snyder appointed Justice David Viviano to replace Hathaway, and this week was the first time since mid-January that the court has had seven sitting justices. There are now five men and two women on Michigan’s Supreme Court.

The types of acts the former justice is being accused of fit under the umbrella category of white collar crimes. White Collar Crime cases, which can include various types of fraud, cannot be handled in the same manner as other crimes are handled. White collar crime cases often involve complex financial records, and thus implicate complex trails of evidence that need to be investigated, sifted through, and examined carefully, in order to make sure that nothing is overlooked .

Fraud is one of the most common white collar crime charges, simply because it comes in so many forms. Some forms of fraud included in white collar crimes include mortgage fraud, as that alleged against the judge, small business loan fraud, credit card fraud, and medical insurance fraud.

The attorneys at the Law Office of Steven L. Schwarz have more than 20 years of experience in all different kinds of criminal law representation. Contact us today to schedule your initial confidential and complimentary consultation. You can contact us through our website, or by calling us anytime at (248) 930-5019.

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