Law
4:34 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court Justice faces FBI investigation

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is being investigated by the FBI for possible mortgage fraud, The Detroit News and Free Press report.

They are reporting that the investigation stems from a questionable real estate deal that allowed Hathaway to avoid nearly $600,000 in mortgage debt on a $1.5 million Grosse Pointe Park home.

From the Detroit News:

Sources said the probe was launched after news reports in May revealed Hathaway and her husband, trial attorney Michael Kingsley, transferred at least two of their homes to relatives before a bank allowed them unload the home on Lakeview Court in Grosse Pointe Park in a November 2011 short sale

Public records show Hathaway and Kingsley's Lakeview Court home was sold Nov. 8, 2011, on a short sale for $850,000, approximately $625,000 less than the couple borrowed in 2007.

In the months leading up to the short sale, two of the couple's homes in Florida and on Windmill Pointe Drive in Grosse Pointe Park were transferred through quit claim deeds to Hathaway's stepchildren. After the sale, the homes were transferred back into Hathaway and Kingsley's name, public records show.

In September 2010, public records show Hathaway transferred a home on Windmill Pointe Drive in Grosse Pointe Park to Michael James Kingsley, who was identified as Hathaway's stepson in a WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) report in May.

Six months later, records show Hathaway and her husband transferred the Windemere, Fla., home to Kathryn Sterr, identified by WXYZ as a Hathaway stepdaughter.

Property records also show Sarah Kingsley — identified as another Hathaway stepdaughter — purchased a home on Balfour in Grosse Pointe Park in April 2011 with $195,000 cash and quit claimed the home to Hathaway less than a month after the short sale. No money traded hands, records show, raising questions about where Hathaway's stepdaughter got the money to purchase the home.

Both Hathaway’s lawyer, Steve Fishman, and the FBI declined comment, the News reports.

In short sales, banks allow homeowners to sell property at a loss in order to avoid foreclosure. In these cases, homeowners must demonstrate financial distress.

According to the WXYZ report, the bank that administered Hathway's short sale requires homeowners to disclose all properties in their name.

Justice Hathaway is not up for reelection this year.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom