View Full Version : Jailed ex-Freedom Owner wants shorter term

Team Clark
01-08-2007, 01:14 PM
I read this yesterday and was almost at a complete loss for words. The outrageous claims made in the article are just incredible. The part where he and his son "allegedly" try to take down Pete Rose and Petey Jr. are really the icing on the cake.

Former owner of Freedom claims agreements broken

Citing an ineffective defense attorney and broken agreements, the former owner of the Florence Freedom wants his prison sentence reduced.

Chuck Hildebrant, who has served one year of a five-year sentence, tricked banks into loaning him $7.2 million, some of which he used to build the minor league team's stadium.

His financial schemes unraveled in 2004 when contractors stopped work on the stadium after not being paid. The financial turmoil left the baseball team bankrupt and Florence out legal fees and lease payments.

Hildebrant, of Morrow, Ohio, pleaded guilty to the fraud, filing a false income tax return and making an illegal campaign contribution.

Now he says his sentence should have been shorter. In a motion filed from the Big Sandy federal prison in Inez, where he has been since January 2006, Hildebrant says he should have gotten special consideration because he helped prosecutors and because he was under mental strain.

The motion filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati says that Hildebrant explained his complicated fraud scheme to authorities and that his son helped the FBI in the drug distribution investigation of Pete Rose Jr.

Hildebrant states that his attorney, Jack Rubenstein, should have raised both issues during his sentencing in October 2005 but did not.

Rubenstein on Friday said he did not want to comment on the motion.

U.S. District Judge Michael Watson, who sentenced Hildebrant, said Friday that he is still considering Hildebrant's request for a hearing.

In the motion, Hildebrant says he began suffering from severe depression in February 2003, the same month he became involved in the baseball team.

Hildebrant says he was under "serious mental pressure" because he had to pay for all of the stadium construction when his partners refused to help because only he and his wife signed a lease to build the stadium on city-owned land.

Hildebrant says he was under even more pressure because his wife, Connie, was the team's general manager and his son Christopher "Flip" Hildebrant was a player on the team.

He said he also suffered from panic disorder with agoraphobia, a fear of being in public.

The fact that his lawyer did not tell the judge about his mental condition "cannot be found to be a tactical decision, it simply represents ineffective assistance," Hildebrant wrote.

In January 2005, before an indictment was issued, Hildebrant agreed to plead guilty. In his motion, he says he took investigators step by step through his case and gave them his computer.

He also states that his son gave the agents information about Pete Rose and Pete Rose Jr. Hildebrant claims his son "even wore a wire on several occasions in the attempt to catch Mr. Pete Rose and Mr. Pete Rose Jr. in their gambling and drug-trafficking case."

Hildebrant wrote that his son placed bets for the agents to hear. But local agents "did nothing with the information" so Hildebrant's son flew to Nashville where he cooperated with the FBI in investigation of Pete Rose Jr., the motion states.

In November 2005, Rose Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court in Nashville to distributing GHB, a steroid alternative, to his minor league teammates.

He was sentenced to one month in prison, a term he served last summer in the Boone County jail, and five months of home incarceration.

In his motion, Hildebrant says he understood that because of his son's assistance and his cooperation with the bank fraud investigation, he would "receive a benefit."

Though Hildebrant faults his attorney for not bringing up the issues during sentencing, he does not say in the motion why he did not bring up the issues during the two-hour hearing Oct. 20, 2005.

Hildebrant spoke at length at the hearing, explaining why he forged signatures to get a $3 million mortgage on property he did not own and how he made the campaign contribution to try to get an audience with President Bush.

He also tearfully apologized to his wife and two sons.

The U.S. Penitentiary-Big Sandy, where Hildebrant, 46, is serving his sentence, is known as a dangerous prison. Last year, there were two stabbing deaths at the prison about 200 miles southeast of Cincinnati. Hildebrant is scheduled to be released in June 2010. He will be on probation for five years after his release.

In addition to the sentence, Hildebrant also was ordered to pay $4 million to the city of Florence, stadium contractors, his cousin and three banks.

"The city is surprised, although it's not something we have direct ability to contest, we don't believe it has any merit," said Florence city attorney Hugh Skees. "But we're rather intrigued with the business about Pete Rose, we never had any inkling of that."

In addition to the $4 million Hildebrant must repay, he and his wife also owe Florence $5 million as the result of a civil lawsuit the city filed against the couple for breaching the lease agreement.

Though the couple filed bankruptcy, a judge determined the debt to Florence could not be cleared.

Last year Connie Hildebrant, who was estranged from her husband and living in Florida, told Florence attorneys that she was working at a women's shelter. She could not be reached for comment.

Chip R
01-08-2007, 01:48 PM
Last year Connie Hildebrant, who was estranged from her husband and living in Florida, told Florence attorneys that she was working at a women's shelter. She could not be reached for comment.

I guess if Wayne doesn't work out, the Reds can try her. She's got more experience at being a GM than Wayne or DanO. ;)

I'm shocked, shocked, to find that Pete Rose gambles. He needed to wear a wire for that? He should have just asked him.

Team Clark
01-08-2007, 01:56 PM
I'm shocked, shocked, to find that Pete Rose gambles. He needed to wear a wire for that? He should have just asked him.

:laugh: I know. I read that and almost fell down. Not to mention that part of the story is largely exaggerated and twisted. Typical Chuck Hildebrant.

01-08-2007, 02:21 PM
Since he suffers from agoraphobia, it's surprising he isn't happier in prison.....

Team Clark
01-08-2007, 02:23 PM
Since he suffers from agoraphobia, it's surprising he isn't happier in prison.....

:laugh: :laugh: I wonder how he made it through the numerous Front Row seat Elton John/Billy Joel concerts and the Carribean Cruises? :laugh: Maybe the Agoraphobia settled in around sentencing.

Team Clark
01-08-2007, 04:01 PM
Today's update: Great comments by Florence's attorney.

By Cincy Post Staff Reporter

Florence City Attorney Hugh Skees says he doesn't believe former Florence Freedom minor league baseball team owner Chuck Hildebrant will succeed in a bid to have his five-year prison term shortened.

"I think his request is without merit, and I don't think he will prevail," said Skees. "The city would not want him to get out early, and I think there are a litany of other people who would not want him out early."

Hildebrant pleaded guilty to bank fraud, election fraud and filing a false tax claim and has served one year of his five-year sentence.

He was charged in connection with a $3 million bank loan he obtained to finance construction of Champion Window Field, the stadium used by the Freedom team.

Hildebrant, 46, who lived in Morrow, forged signatures and used false documents to get loans and lines of credit from several banks, according to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement.

Hildebrant, who was sentenced in October 2005 by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson and began serving his five-year term in January 2006, is requesting re-sentencing and a shorter term.

He didn't specify how much time he thought should be cut from his sentence.

Hildebrant's request wasn't filed by an attorney, said Skees.

"He did this on his own in prison," said Skees. "These kinds of requests are frequently filed by prisoners. They have a lot of time on their hands."

Hildebrant claims in his request that he had a bargain with prosecutors for a shorter sentence because he cooperated with them during their investigation of him and because his son helped authorities in their investigation of Pete Rose Jr. for distributing banned substances while Rose Jr. was a minor-league baseball player.

"He claims his trial attorney, Jack Rubenstein, didn't bring up the bargain at his sentencing, but he doesn't say what the bargain was supposed to be," said Skees.

Skees said he doubted such a claim because he considers Rubenstein to be a brilliant defense attorney.

Rubenstein couldn't be reached for comment.

Hildebrant also contends in his request for a shorter sentence that he was "emotionally distressed and stressed out" during his ownership of the Freedom, according to Skees.

Hildebrant's group that owned the Freedom filed bankruptcy in September 2004 amid a financial scandal that included subcontractors walking off the ballpark construction job because they weren't getting paid.

In the wake of the scandal, banks won nearly $4 million and the city of Florence won nearly $5 million in judgments against Hildebrant. Because of the bankruptcy filing, it's not known if the judgments will be collected.

Following the bankruptcy, the Freedom baseball team was sold and construction of the stadium was completed.

Strikes Out Looking
01-08-2007, 04:12 PM
FYI--his attorney also shot Lee Harvey Oswald.