Last month the Judicial Nominating Commission started accepting name submissions to fill the vacancy on the DeKalb County Superior Court (formally the Stone Mountain Circuit) caused by Judge Hancock’s resignation. Anyone can submit a name, and apparently, somebody submitted the name of Michael L. Rothenberg, and there is only one person by that name who is a member of the Georgia Bar.
If Rothenberg’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he has a long history with PeachPundit that includes trying to run for an office for which he was not qualified, dropping out of that race, then running again in 2010 and making the runoff before being sued in federal court and by the Securities and Exchange Commission for alleged fraud.
In 2008, Rothenberg ran for Superior Court and Erick questioned his eligibility.
Rothenberg did indeed run in 2010, and made the runoff against Courtney Johnson, who won the election. Between the general election and the runoff, Rothenberg was accused of running a ponzi scheme in a federal lawsuit seeking the return of $1.35 million “invested” with Rothenberg.
Rothenberg called the lawsuit “nothing more than a political hit job on me.”
He said the lawsuit’s allegations were “absolutely outrageous, slanderous and completely untrue, completely untrue.”
On November 18, 2010 the Daily Report ran a story that Rothenberg implied that his campaign was supported by Congressmen Hank Johnson and John Lewis and State Senator Jason Carter. All three of those elected officials denied having endorsed Rothenberg.
On November 29th, the AJC reported that State Representative Mike Jacobs withdrew his personal endorsement of Rothenberg based on concerns over the private lawsuit. That article also reported that DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer (R-Smokerise) denied having endorsed Rothenberg, despite her picture appearing on Rothenberg’s mailings under the heading “Endorsed By”.
Liz Carter, the Republican Candidate for the Fourth Congressional District, had the day earlier emailed a number of DeKalb Republicans stating that she had not approved the printed endorsement that Rothenberg attributed to her and was asking people not to vote for Rothenberg in the runoff.
Both DeKalb Libertarians stood by their endorsement of Rothenberg.
After losing to now-Judge Johnson, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Rothenberg, alleging that his “investment” scheme violated the ’33 and ’34 Acts.
[As an aside, let this stand as a lesson to the political opportunists and scalawags who seek to destroy America by robbing Georgians of our God-given right to vote in runoff elections. Absent the runoff election, this might not have all come out and Rothenberg might have been elected. And it would have been your fault when a Superior Court Judge was indicted for fraud.]
The Commission’s complaint alleges that between at least February 2010 and March 2010, Rothenberg, through Four Five, used misrepresentations and omissions of material fact to induce investors to participate in a secret and allegedly risk-free trading platform or trading facility. This trading platform or trading facility purportedly involved transactions among international banks that would generate substantial return on a recurring basis. Specifically, Rothenberg represented that the trading platform would produce returns in excess of 300% every fourteen days. Rothenberg and Four Five also represented to investors, both orally and in writing, that the majority of their funds would remain at all times in Rothenberg’s attorney trust account, and that all funds invested, along with the profits, would be returned to the investors at the conclusion of the trades. [Emphasis added]
As part of the settlement, the SEC found that:
contrary to Rothenberg’s representations that investor funds would remain in his attorney trust account, Rothenberg began disbursing investor funds within days of receipt of those funds. Between March 2010 and October 2010, at least $210,000 in investor funds were transferred to a bank account designated for contributions to Rothenberg’s judicial election campaign. Rothenberg used another $190,000 of investor funds for personal expenses. Although Rothenberg ultimately returned approximately $910,000 to investors, he misappropriated at least $800,000 of investor funds. [Emphasis added.]
And according to the SEC’s press release:
Defendants were also ordered to pay disgorgement, pre-judgment interest and a civil penalty in amounts to be resolved upon motion of the Commission at a later date, and directed that for purposes of that motion, the allegations of the Commission’s Complaint shall be deemed true. Defendants consented to the entry of the order without admitting or denying the allegations of the Commission’s Complaint.