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UPDATE: Feds plan to try and seize properties, businesses owned by Manchester developer Michael Hild in fraud case

The scheme allowed Live Well to grow its bond portfolio exponentially, from approximately 20 bonds with a stated value of $50 million in 2014 to approximately 50 bonds with a stated value of $500 million by the end of 2016.  In May 2019, in conjunction with an effort to wind down the company, Live Well wrote down the value of its portfolio by approximately $141 million.

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Update (9/10/19):

From Richmond BizSense:

The federal government would look to seize dozens of properties in and around Manchester, as well as a new brewery, donut shop and café on Hull Street, if it’s successful in prosecuting local mortgage executive Michael Hild.

New documents filed late last week in the criminal case against the embattled founder and CEO of Chesterfield-based Live Well Financial list in detail the assets owned by Hild and his wife, which the government claims “constitute proceeds of Hild’s fraudulent scheme.”

Hild, who ran Live Well until its collapse into bankruptcy this summer, was arrested last month on counts of securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud.

The 44-year-old has pleaded not guilty and remains free on a $500,000 bond. His only comment publicly since his arrest last month has been through his attorneys, who stated “every business failure is not a corporate crime.”

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Original (8/30/19):

The FBI has arrested a well-known local businessman who is accused of taking part in an alleged $140 million bond fraud scheme. Michael Hild, the founder, former chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder in Live Well Financial, Inc., was arrested Thursday in connection with a scheme, from in or about September 2015 through in or about May 2019, to fraudulently inflate the value of a portfolio of bonds owned by Live Well in order to induce various securities dealers and at least one financial institution into loaning more money to Live Well. The alleged crime was perpetuated through repurchase agreements and collateralized loans that masked the actual value of Live Well’s bond portfolio.

The scheme allowed Live Well to grow its bond portfolio exponentially, from approximately 20 bonds with a stated value of $50 million in 2014 to approximately 50 bonds with a stated value of $500 million by the end of 2016.  In May 2019, in conjunction with an effort to wind down the company, Live Well wrote down the value of its portfolio by approximately $141 million.

In addition, charges were unsealed against Eric Rohr, the former chief financial officer at Live Well, and Darren Stumberger, the former head trader at Live Well, for their participation in the scheme.  Both Rohr and Stumberger have pled guilty and are cooperating with authorities.

Hild was presented and arraigned Thursday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  On August 28th, the government obtained a post-indictment restraining order restraining assets – including various real properties and business interests in the Richmond area – owned directly or indirectly by Hild and, as alleged, purchased with proceeds of the scheme.

Hild and his wife Laura Dyer Hild have also started a handful of businesses, mainly in the Manchester neighborhood, including Hot Diggity Donuts, The Butter Bean Market & Café, and also own neighborhood news website The Dogtown Dish.

“As alleged, Michael Hild orchestrated a scheme to deceive Live Well’s lenders by fraudulently inflating the value of its mortgage-backed bonds by over $140 million,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “This allegedly enabled Live Well to borrow money well over the value of the collateral it put up. In turn, Hild used these ill-gotten funds to gain control of the company and increase his own compensation by nearly 700%, while exposing lenders cumulatively to $65 million in unsecured loans to the company, which is now in bankruptcy.”

In a separate action, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Hild.

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Arts & Entertainment

Axe-throwing chain set to open near The Circuit Arcade Bar in Scott’s Addition

The venue will open in the former Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building at 3100 W. Leigh Street in the heart of the neighborhood.

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From Richmond BizSense:

After its first attempt to get into the Richmond market fell flat, a Canadian axe-throwing bar is back with a location coming to Scott’s Addition.

Bad Axe Throwing is preparing to open at 3100 W. Leigh St. in a 5,000-square-foot space in the old Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building.

Based in Ontario, Bad Axe has nearly 50 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In 2018, it began planning a Richmond location on West Broad Street, across from the forthcoming Whole Foods in Sauer Center.

But those plans fell through last spring. Bad Axe owner Mario Zelaya said there was an issue about the amount of parking available at that location, which caused them to scrap the plans.

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Business

Nine-acre Elks Lodge property near Innsbrook slated to be transformed into mixed use development

Highwoods Properties paid $3.3 million for the nine-acre Elks Lodge near Innsbrook After Hours and plans to mull over mixed-use, high density options for the site.

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From Richmond BizSense:

One of the biggest landlords in Innsbrook has amassed more land in the area, this time snagging a block of acreage next to the site where the Innsbrook After Hours concert series is held.

Highwoods Properties last month bought the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 45 property at 10022 Elks Pass Lane in Henrico. It paid $3.3 million for the 9-acre assemblage, which adds to another 12 adjacent and largely undeveloped acres the company already owns.

Jane DuFrane, Highwoods’ vice president and local market lead, said the company still is mulling options for the Elks land and adjacent sites, including developing a “walkable community with a mix of uses.”

“The Elks Lodge property’s contiguous proximity to our other land holdings and existing office buildings made it a natural fit for our portfolio,” DuFrane said in an email.

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Business

Container Store, Chase Bank taking over two adjacent properties at Short Pump Town Center

The former hhgregg appliances and electronics store and neighboring Matchbox restaurant are being transformed into two new-to-Richmond brands.

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Two neighboring properties at the entrance of Short Pump Town Center are set to be transformed into homes for two new-to-Richmond brands – both as reported by Richmond BizSense.

The former Matchbox Restaurant on W. Broad Street is currently being eyed for a new Chase Bank, BizSense says. Plans have been filed to transform the two-story building into a bank and drive-thru. Read more about the plans here.

Across the road, the former hhgregg appliance and electronics store – originally built as a Circuit City – is being rehabbed into a new location for The Container Store, which sells home organization and storage solutions. Check out progress of the transformation here.

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