Former Zeeland Attorney Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud; Allegedly Steals $800,000 from Clients’ Estate Trusts

Kenneth Hoesch, a former Zeeland attorney and city Board of Public Works chair, recently pleaded guilty to mail fraud; he will now face 6 1/2 years in prison after being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Federal sentencing guidelines, which are only a baseline designed to assist judges in handing out a fair sentence, called for a minimum sentence of 63 to 78 months. Hoesch was sentenced to 78 months in prison and three years supervised release, according to the Holland Sentinel.

Hoesch allegedly stole approximately $800,000 from clients’ estate trusts in a mail fraud scheme. Edwin Vander Ploeg, one of Hoesch’s former business partners, told the judge that Hoesch betrayed the confidence of his own family, workers, and his clients. News reports claim that Hoesch left his role at the law firm and resigned his law license, leaving his partners stunned and left to deal with clients who were “devastated.”

While Hoesch admitted stealing the money from clients’ trust funds, the government also believes that the former attorney obtained more than $700,000 additionally in loans by providing misleading and false information, according to court documents. Hoesch’s victims claimed that while he supposedly assisted with helping dying family members put their estates in order, he was actually taking the money for his own personal use.

Vander Ploeg alleged that it was determined by investigators that Hoesch, who was thought of as a “pillar of the community,” began stealing money from clients in 1995. He ultimately became a suspect and investigations began in 2010 after he allegedly stole money that was to go to the American Cancer Society.

Hoesch was genuinely remorseful according to defense attorney Richard Zambon; he also apologized to his victims as he addressed the court, saying “I’m sorry for all that I have done. The stealing, the lies, and most of all, the betrayal of your trust.”

Several organizations participated in the investigation, including the U.S. Secret Service, the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.


Michigan fraud defense attorneys know that the criminal penalties handed down to those convicted of crimes involving theft via fraudulent activity are extremely harsh. If you are under investigation for embezzlement or fraud, or have already been arrested, contact an aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer at once for effective legal representation and a good outcome.

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