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Former Stone Mountain Superior Court Candidate Sentenced for Fraud

Federal prosecutors say Michael Rothenberg scammed investors of $1.35 million that he used to fund a failed campaign.

A photo of Michael Rothenberg from his campaign website.
A photo of Michael Rothenberg from his campaign website.

By Adrianne Murchison and Kevin Madigan

Michael Rothenberg, a former judge on the DeKalb Recorder's Court, was sentenced Friday for defrauding investors to fund his political campaign for a seat on the DeKalb County Superior Court. 

Rothenberg, 36, was convicted last September and pleaded guilty. When he was indicted in July 2012, his reaction was "I'm shocked. I'm talking to my representatives to see what to do next."

He was appointed to the DeKalb County Recorder's Court in 2007, at age 29. He is one of the youngest judges ever appointed in Georgia, according to Judgepedia. In 2012, Rothenberg was a candidate for a judgeship on the Stone Mountain Superior Court, and was defeated by incumbent Gail Flake.

According to U.S. Attorney Sally Yates, Rothenberg deceitfully persuaded the owners of WinterHawk Energy and Development Corporation to invest $1.35 million. Rothenberg told them the money would be placed in a trust account, controlled by him, 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 10 percent profit would be earned each time a note or “tranch” was traded. Rothenberg told the investors that the investment involved no risk. 

Rothenberg instead used the money to fund his political campaign for a seat on the DeKalb County Superior Court, as well as for personal expenses, the media statement said. He was unsuccessful in his bid for the judgeship. 

United States District Judge Steve C. Jones sentenced Rothenberg to three years, five months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $800,000. 


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