Former DeKalb judicial candidate headed to federal prison for defrauding investors

Former DeKalb County Superior Court candidate Michael Rothenberg was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison Friday for using $1.35 million in campaign investments for his own personal use.

Rothenberg, 36, was sentenced to three years, five months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, following his conviction on wire fraud charges, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $800,000.

“This defendant committed fraud at the very time that he was asking the voters of DeKalb County to trust him,” Yates said in an emailed statement. “Now he will spend time in federal prison.”

Rothenberg used an elaborate scheme to get the owners of WinterHawk Energy and Development Corporation to invest $1.35 million into a trust account he controlled, according to investigators. He promised that the account would build interest and involved no risk, and he emailed fake bank statements as part of the scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

But no investment existed, and the Rothenberg instead used the money for his political campaign and for personal expenses, Yates said.

Rothenberg was indicted in July 2012 on theft charges. He pleaded guilty last September.