Man who defrauded philanthropist sentenced to 3.5 years in prison

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) - A man who squandered millions of dollars belonging to the matriarch of a prominent Michigan family was sentenced Tuesday to 3½ years in federal prison for fraud and money laundering.

Robert Haveman's sentence was significantly below the non-mandatory guidelines of six to seven years. U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell had tough words for the financial adviser, but gave him credit for remorse, instant cooperation with investigators and repayment of $5 million.

Haveman still owes $11 million to the financial trust of Elsa Prince-Broekhuizen under his plea deal, although losses during the time he managed her money appear to be higher. She's the widow of western Michigan businessman Edgar Prince and mother of Republican activist Betsy DeVos and Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince.

"I am puzzled as to what happened. Where did you come off the rails?" the judge asked Haveman, who searched for an answer.

"My greed," the 67-year-old replied. "I don't know, your honor. I don't know."

In a court filing, defense attorney Chip Chamberlain said many losses were based on false hopes that some investments would cover Haveman's mistakes. He said Haveman sometimes was "duped" into opportunities and lost some of his own money.

"Mr. Haveman did not manage a garden variety portfolio," Chamberlain said. "His role was to find profitable opportunities, and by definition many were speculative startups. This role naturally led to high risk and high risk of loss."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher O'Connor said Haveman treated the trust as a "personal piggy bank," wasting $27 million by investing it with a woman and her business. No names were disclosed in a court filing. He also helped the woman with mortgage and personal expenses.

"The money is gone and that woman has now left the country," O'Connor said.

Published: Thu, Oct 06, 2016