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.
After initially arguing that he was indeed eligible, Rothenberg later ended that campaign. Erick congratulated him on making the right decision and wrote, “I hope in 2010 he will run.”
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.”
In a January 2008 report obtained by Peach Pundit, the Georgia Department of Audits has slammed John Oxendine’s Special Fraud Program, noting that only a small percentage of reported fraud cases are investigated in a timely manner, and “very few” are ever prosecuted. The audit found that over two-thirds of the cases under investigation were closed due to the statute of limitations expiring, and less than ten percent were referred on for criminal prosecution.
The program was created by statute in 1995 with the express intention that “proper investigation of fraudulent insurance acts, followed by vigorous prosecution of insurance fraud” would reduce premiums. And our current commissioner would have us believe that is occurring, given his frequent appearance in front of any news camera rolling to cover a suspicious fire.
But when the cameras are off, so is the investigative heat. The audit found, among other problems, the failure of the department to ensure that cases were investigated in a timely manner, action had not been taken to ensure that the investigators focus their efforts on their most significant cases, and that the department had no formal goals, objectives, and performance standards to monitor the Program’s efficiency and effectiveness.
While the audit questioned the ability of the unit to effectively investigate and resolve cases, it also found that charges billed to the Special Fraud Program often had no relation to the program itself. The audit concluded that Oxendine had charged $343,000 of his office overhead had been allocated to the unit, when $125,000 should have been an appropriate number. $69,000 of $86,000 in travel costs billed to the unit had no direct relation to employees assigned to the unit, and $14,000 of $69,000 in contract fees and per diem expenses from the program appeared to be improperly charged. Thus, the financially squeezed fraud unit’s funds were redirected to cover other expenses within the Department of Insurance instead of spent on investigating cases to prepare them for prosecution. Read more