Michigan Supreme Court justice sentenced to prison over real estate scam

LANSING, Mich., May 28, 2013 -- There goes the judge... to prison.

In a Michigan courtroom on Tuesday, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay $90,000 in restitution. She had previously pleaded guilty to charges of defrauding a bank out of $664,000 by concealing assets during a short sale of her home.

However, during 2011 financial negotiations with ING in order to avoid forclosure on their Michigan home, Hathaway and her husband did not disclose nearly a million dollars in assets that included a second home in Florida that was mortgage-free.

Prior to the sentence, Hathaway had told the court, "I am ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated and disgraced." In an attempt to avoid prison time, her defense lawyer had suggested that Hathaway's public humiliation and the loss of her state Supreme Court seat, along with community service, would be fitting punishment. U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara did not agree, and handed down the one year prison sentence.

Hathaway's prior professional experience in the private sector included real estate law.

"Diane Hathaway was a crook who used her robes instead of a gun to rob a bank of tens of thousands of dollars," said Dan Pero, President of the American Justice Partnership. "She then blatantly and repeatedly lied about her actions to deceive investigators and cling to power. She is now going to jail and that's where she belongs." Pero is also a former member of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC), and filed the initial formal complaint against Hathaway with the JTC.

"Hathaway's true offense was not confined to merely stealing from her bank, but includes embarrassing the state's highest Court and diminishing public respect for the law's most important officers," Pero added. "Even after admitting to her crimes, she has never apologized to the people of Michigan or her colleagues on the Court.  Frankly, I think she deserved the maximum 18-month sentence recommended by prosecutors."