Former Live Well CEO Hild granted bail as appeals process plays out

The former Live Well Financial CEO raises a substantial question of case law in his bid for an appeal, according to the court ruling

Michael Hild, the former CEO of now-defunct reverse mortgage lender Live Well Financial, has been granted bail while the appeals process plays out in his fraud case, according to court documents. Hild was sentenced to 44 months in prison last month for a scheme to artificially inflate the value of the lender’s bonds.

Hild has contended that he did not receive proper counsel from his attorney, Benjamin Dusing, due to an alleged conflict of interest on the part of his trial counsel.

Shortly after his arrest by federal authorities, Hild enlisted Dusing to represent him, but shortly after the verdict claimed that Dusing’s legal issues in his home state of Kentucky contributed to a deficiency in his defense.

Dusing has denied the allegations, and Hild’s efforts to seek an acquittal or new trial on these grounds did not persuade Judge Ronnie Abrams prior to sentencing.

But now that a sentence has been handed down, Judge Abrams has granted Hild’s motion for bail pending the outcome of the appeal, stating that Hild represents neither a flight risk nor a danger to his community.

“To be sure, the Court remains deeply troubled by Dusing’s shocking and shameful behavior in connection with the Kentucky litigation, which even included threats of violence against opposing counsel and the court’s staff, as well as the resulting professional sanctions levied against him in multiple jurisdictions,” Abrams wrote.

Judge Abrams stated that while she disagrees that Dusing’s court proceeding in Kentucky presented an “actual conflict,” there is still merit in taking a closer look at the legal argument raised by Hild and his current legal team.

“[A]s [the Court] noted in its opinion denying Hild’s posttrial motions, the issue does present a ‘challenging question at the intersection of the Sixth Amendment right to conflict-free counsel and the modern reality . . . that other obligations, personal and professional, inevitably arise, even when ensuring a fair trial for the accused,’” the judge wrote, citing pre-existing case law. “The Court therefore concludes that Hild’s appeal presents a ‘substantial question’ [to be considered].”

Abrams stated that the legal argument warrants review by the appeals court — even if the judge is confident that the court will agree with the original outcome.

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