In July 2012, Rothenberg, of Decatur, failed in his bid to unseat Superior Court Judge Gail Flake, who garnered 72 percent of the vote in the election to Rothenberg’s 28 percent. Two weeks before the election, Rothenberg was indicted on six felony counts of theft by taking by a DeKalb Grand Jury.
According to United States Attorney Yates in a Wednesday news release, Rothenberg, 35, 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 Rothenberg, 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 as the release explains, 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.
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.
“This defendant stole from investors who trusted his judgment,” said Yates in the press release. “His fraud is particularly egregious because he was involved in defrauding investors at the very time he was seeking to be elected as a DeKalb County Superior Court Judge, and because he used a portion of the illegal proceeds to fund his political campaign. Ultimately, his fraud scheme was uncovered, and his quest to be elected ended in failure.”
The charge of wire fraud in this case carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing is scheduled for November