Losses for Prince Corp. heiress exceed $50M

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A Holland financial advisor admitted to bilking Prince Corp. heiress Elsa D. Prince-Broekhuizen out of more than $16 million, but concedes her losses could top $50 million due to his poor investment decisions.

A contrite Robert Allen Haveman appeared in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids Wednesday to plead guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.

Under questioning from Judge Robert Holmes Bell, the 67-year-old president of EDP Management Co. LLC admitted to having little oversight when it came to handling her financial affairs after Price Corp. was sold to Johnson Controls.

The company founded by her late husband Edgar Prince was sold for $1.35 billion in 1996; Haveman began handling her financial affairs a year later.

“Unfortunately your honor, I had a whole lot of latitude,’’ Haveman said. “A lot of it was lost in bad investments.’’

Prince-Broekhuizen, the mother of former Michigan GOP chair Betsy DeVos, was swindled over the span of 16 years, with money coming from her personal accounts and the Elsa S. Prince Living Trust.

In addition to the $16.2 million Haveman admitted to taking, he estimates Prince-Broekhuizen’s total losses to be somewhere between $50 and $60 million.

Haveman mentioned three investments in particular that performed poorly: A rubber recycling business in Pennsylvania, an environmental packaging firm in Texas and a brokerage business in Chicago.

The gravy train came to a halt in 2014 when Prince-Broekhuizen’s investment committee told him to stop spending money. Haveman was required to report to the committee any money that was needed or used, he told the judge.

“These investments were doing very poorly and very limited opportunity for recovery of these monies,’’ he said.

Haveman said he has already paid back $2.6 million to the Elsa S. Prince Living Trust. 

He admitted to using at least $1 million of Prince-Broekhuizen’s money as partial payment on land overlooking Lake Michigan along Olive Shore Avenue in Ottawa County’s Port Sheldon Township. He's agreed to transfer ownership of the lakefront lot, valued at $1.6 million, to the trust fund.

Haveman also has to sell a 2005 Chevy Corvette 30 days before sentencing and a 2008 Lexus no later than 30 days after he is sentenced, with the proceeds used for restitution, a plea agreement states.

His retirement trust and a 401k account are also fair game, according to the plea agreement.

In exchange for his guilty pleas, the government will let Haveman keep four parcels in Ottawa County, a time-share condominium in Colorado and his stake in a turkey processing operation.

Haveman will return to federal court for sentencing on Aug. 9.  The government has also agreed to sentencing guidelines that call for a prison term of slightly less than six years to 7-¼ years.

Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison while money laundering carries a 10-year cap. Haveman remains free on bond.

 

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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