Diane Hathaway, a Michigan Supreme Court judge, has been accused of real estate fraud by the FBI, who believe that she and her husband, Michael Kingsley, fraudulently transferred property in order to wipe $600,000 in mortgage debt off of their Michigan home. The federal government filed a lawsuit recently which seeks to seize Hathaway’s Florida home.
News reports state that Hathaway and Kingsley submitted a hardship letter to ING Bank in 2010, requesting to do a short sale on their Grosse Pointe Park home; however, they did not disclose at the time that their Windermere, FL home had been put under Kingsley’s daughter’s name, according to the federal government.
Essentially, the FBI accused the couple of persuading a bank to allow a short sale on one property, while concealing control of the Florida real estate. Following the short sale of their Michigan home, the Florida home was transferred from Kingsley’s daughter’s name back to the couple, according to the lawsuit which was filed on November 19.
In her first formal response to the government’s lawsuit, Hathaway denied any wrongdoing, saying that while she and Kingsley did not disclose the transfer of their Florida home to their daughter, the bank did not ask about other properties. A court filing submitted on Friday, November 30 does not reveal the reason the couple transferred the Florida home and then got it back.
A written statement from Michigan Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. urges Hathaway to “clear the air and explain these transactions.” Young also said that allegations of fraud against any judge are a “dreadful development.”
Michigan fraud defense attorneys know that these allegations are serious, and that Hathaway and Kingsley could be facing serious punishment if found guilty of bank/real estate fraud. Many criminal offenses subject those convicted to substantial fines, prison time, and even forfeiture of professional licenses; federal sentencing guidelines are usually even more harsh than those at the state level.
If you have been accused of fraudulent activity, it is important that you seek legal guidance from an aggressive and skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer at once.