Former Candidate for DeKalb County Superior Court Sentenced
ATLANTA - Michael Rothenberg has been sentenced on a charge of wire fraud for defrauding investors and using their money to fund his political campaign for a seat on the DeKalb County Superior Court.
“This defendant committed fraud at the very time that he was asking the voters of DeKalb County to trust him,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Now he will spend time in federal prison.”
Ricky Maxwell, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Today’s sentencing of Mr. Rothenberg will not only hold him accountable for his criminal conduct but will provide him with time to contemplate those actions and the harm that he caused others and, ultimately, to himself as well.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Michael Rothenberg, of DeKalb County, Ga., deceitfully persuaded the owners of WinterHawk Energy and Development Corporation (WinterHawk) into investing a total of $1.35 million. Rothenberg represented that the invested money would be placed in a trust account, controlled by him, which would be used to fund the trading of notes by large financial institutions. These notes, according to Rothenberg, would be split into “tranches,” and a ten percent profit would be earned each time a note or “tranch” was traded. Rothenberg told the investors that the investment involved no risk.
In fact, no investment existed and Rothenberg used the money paid by WinterHawk to fund his political campaign for a seat on the DeKalb County Superior Court as well as to pay personal expenses. He ultimately was unsuccessful in his bid for a judgeship. During the scheme, Rothenberg placated the investors’ concerns and lulled them into believing that the investment opportunity was real by emailing them fabricated bank statements, which made it appear as if the money they had invested remained in his trust account and that Rothenberg himself was wealthy. From time to time Rothenberg returned some of the money to the investors in response to their demands, and claimed falsely that he was making up for the shortfall by personally investing his own money. But Rothenberg did not invest his own money, and in fact spent the remaining proceeds – approximately $800,000 – without the investors’ knowledge or consent.
Rothenberg, 36, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Steve C. Jones to three years, five months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $800,000. Rothenberg was convicted on these charges on September 11, 2013, after he pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Steven D. Grimberg prosecuted the case. The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office provided valuable assistance.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.