Credit Card Could Buy Him Jail Time

Times Staff Writer

In his long and turbulent real estate career, Michael D. “Mickey” Henschel has deftly maneuvered his way out of lawsuits and jail time.

But failing to report hefty charges on a credit card could be his downfall.

The card was issued to his mother. She’s been dead five years.

In Phoenix, where he pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud but avoided prison, federal authorities are trying to revoke Henschel’s probation, citing credit-card receipts recently found in a search of his Van Nuys offices.


Henschel, 55, faces a revocation hearing Jan. 18 on charges of violating probation, including failing to truthfully report major expenditures.

The accusation is based on records seized last month when Los Angeles County fraud investigators armed with search warrants hauled off a truckload of documents.

The probe of Henschel and one of his associates by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department real estate fraud unit is separate from his legal difficulties in Phoenix. But among the 187 boxes of papers, seven filing cabinets and computers grabbed by detectives were records of interest to federal authorities -- receipts from a credit card issued to Henschel’s deceased mother.

Among the charges, which detectives turned over to federal authorities, was $5,300 in August for luxury hotels in Hawaii, according to a petition filed with U.S. District Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt in Phoenix.

The petition says Henschel did not report the expenditures to his probation officer and also failed to produce business records.

Henschel could not be reached. His lawyer Thomas Hoidal declined to comment, saying he would respond to the charges at the hearing.

Last December, Rosenblatt sentenced Henschel to five years’ probation and 240 hours of community service and to pay restitution of nearly $22,000 stemming from his involvement in an equity-skimming ring that cheated mortgage lenders and people who were in default on their monthly payments. Henschel was not fined, based on financial statements showing he had meager assets.

The real estate fraud unit, which is investigating complaints of similar activities by Henschel and an associate, Alan Mitchell of Canoga Park, has issued a public appeal asking victims to come forward, according to Sheriff’s Det. Chris Christopher, who is based in Lancaster.


Mitchell said he had done nothing wrong, “and that will be proven as time goes by.”