BY MICHAEL WALTON
GRAND RAPIDS — A Williamsburg man accused of defrauding elderly clients pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud and filing a false income tax return.
William Lowder, 57, a former licensed insurance agent and annuities producer who had an office on West Front Street in Traverse City, defrauded several elderly clients of more than $1 million between 2001 and 2009, federal court records state.
Lowder convinced clients to cash out annuity investments under the pretext that he would reinvest the funds in annuities with higher rates of return. Lowder than deposited the clients’ funds into his personal bank account.
Lowder sent clients false statements of account to conceal the fraud.
The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation suspended Lowder’s insurance producer license in March. A criminal investigation into his activities by the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department, the IRS and the FBI followed.
Federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell scheduled Lowder’s sentencing hearing for May 29.
Lowder faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge and three years in prison for filing a false tax return. He will also be ordered to pay restitution to his victims.