Thursday, May 30, 2013


John Agar of the Grand Rapids News reports on Lowder sentence; annuity scammer feels "guilt and shame"

300 lb. future cellmate smacks lips and says "Fresh fish!"

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A Traverse City-area man who stole nearly $1.6 million from clients, many of them elderly, was sentenced Wednesday, May 29, to five years in federal prison for wire fraud.
William Edward Lowder, 57, of Williamsburg, cheated clients while he operated Lowder Insurance and Ash Brokerage.

U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell emphasized the long duration of the crime and Lowder’s failure to repay any of his victims. Bell ordered Lowder to pay restitution of $1,567,908, and to perform 300 hours of community service after his prison term ends.

Bell also ordered Lowder to serve a 36-month concurrent sentence for filing a false tax return in 2008.
Lowder was a licensed insurance agent and annuities producer, the government said.

In 2001, he began to defraud elderly clients by convinced them to liquidate existing annuity investments and provide the funds to him to re-invest. Instead, he put the money in his own bank account.

He provided clients with false bank statements.

Instead of reinvesting the proceeds, Lowder deposited the money into his own bank account. Lowder provided clients with false bank statements.

The scheme ended in 2009.

“This case is especially troubling given that Mr. Lowder stole significant amounts of money from elderly clients who, like most citizens, rely upon their limited investments to provide for their financial security,” U.S. Attorney Patrict Miles said.

“The victims of Lowder’s scheme worked hard for their retirement and he stole their hard earned savings,” said Erick Martinez, special agent in charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.

The FBI, Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department, and IRS were assisted by the state Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.

William Edward Lowder, 58, used the money to support his family, business and other interests, records showed.

“Mr. Lowder betrayed the trust of his clients and is remorseful for it,” Sean Tilton, the assistant federal public defender, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“Mr. Lowder feels daily guilt and shame for committing this offense and for the consequences his actions have had on his victims. He shoulders an immense sense of guilt in thinking about what his clients’ lives and his life would be like if he had not committed this offense.”

Tilton said his client has “suffered severe personal consequences.”

His wife of 22 years left. Family members will not talk to him. He lost his business. His home is gone after it fell into foreclosure.

“Mr. Lowder is now an outcast in his community," Tilton wrote.

He has debts of $315,000, which does not include restitution that will be ordered in the case.

Lowder had pleaded guilty to wire fraud, a potential 20-year felony. He operated Lowder Insurance and Ash Brokerage. He sold life, health and disability insurance and annuity investments.

The government said he convinced elderly clients to liquidate investments and buy new annuities through him.
He put that money into his own bank account, and prepared false account statements that convinced clients their money was invested.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell, Lowder wrote: “The guilt and the shame that I have carried over the last few years has been overwhelming, and I know in my heart I feel a deep sorrow for the victims and their families.”

Lowder has no previous criminal record.

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