Bellaire Man Charged in Ponzi Scheme
HOUSTON – A 60-year-old resident of Bellaire made his initial appearance on a 13-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
William Andrew Hightower surrendered to federal authorities yesterday.
He was president of Hightower Capital Group (HCG) which he founded it in 2010. There, he held himself out to be an investment advisor.
The 13-count indictment alleges Hightower took money from clients from 2013-2018 and made false promises as to their investments. In reality, according to the charges, he was conducting a Ponzi Scheme.
Hightower would allegedly tell investors their money was being invested in various projects, such as restaurants, movies, insurance contracts, among other things. The indictment alleges Hightower received more than $10 million from investors, many of whom believed Hightower was investing their money in legitimate projects. According to the allegations, Hightower used investor funds to pay earlier investors in a Ponzi Scheme, pay himself and fund his lifestyle.
Hightower also concealed from his clients that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) had barred him from acting as a broker or otherwise associating with a broker-deal firm in October 2015, according to the indictment.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count as well as a thousands of dollars in possible fines.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty through due process of law.