William Edward Lowder of Williamsburg has pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false federal income tax return and one count of wire fraud, after it was determined by investigators that the 57-year-old insurance agent was bilking his elderly clients out of their investments. Lowder allegedly stole more than $1 million from elderly clients from 2001 to 2009.
Lowder sold health, disability, and life insurance at his company, Lowder Insurance and Ash Brokerage; he also sold other annuity investment products to clients, according to news reports. Ronald Stella, Assistant U.S. Attorney, wrote in a plea agreement that Lowder began stealing from clients in 2001. The announcement that Lowder had pleaded guilty to the charges was made by U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr., along with Erick Martinez, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge, Grand Traverse Sheriff Thomas Bensley, and Robert D. Foley III of the FBI. If convicted of wire fraud, Lowder faces up to 20 years in prison.
Stella wrote that under the scheme, Lowder encouraged elderly clients to liquidate their existing investments and buy new annuities through him, convincing them that doing so would improve returns on their investments. Ultimately, Lowder allegedly used the checks written to him by the clients for his own personal use, depositing them into his bank account rather than purchasing new investments. News reports state that Lowder convinced the elderly clients he was investing their money by preparing false account statements. Allegedly, Lowder used the money to cover his own personal and business expenses, to fund his own trust accounts, and as cash gifts to his wife.
Michigan federal crime attorneys understand that individuals who have been arrested for wire fraud will likely face a substantial number of years behind bars if convicted. Federal crimes are prosecuted vigorously, and the penalties typically more severe than what is handed out at the state level.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for wire fraud, federal tax fraud or any type of fraudulent activity, consult with a seasoned Michigan criminal defense lawyer immediately.