Glenn Neasham: One year later

marzo 8, 2013

Glenn Neasham: One year later
By Paul Wilson

In 2008, Glenn Neasham sold an Allianz MasterDex 10 annuity to Fran Schuber, an 83-year-old woman who was later diagnosed with dementia. Three years after the sale, he was convicted of felony theft from an elder in California Superior Court. In February 2012, Superior Court Judge Richard Martin rejected Neasham’s request for a new trial and sentenced him to 300 days in jail, which he reduced to 60 days. On March 20, 2012, Neasham was granted $20,000 bail, allowing him to stay out of jail pending appeal.

Neasham’s case has captured the attention of the insurance industry and has been written about extensively on ProducersWEB, LifeHealthPro,The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.

I recently sat down with Neasham, who provided an update on his case, his thoughts on the effects it could have on insurance agents and others who sell to seniors, his views on annuity regulation, and what he’d do differently if he had another chance.

ProducersWEB: It’s been almost a year since our readers last heard from you. What has been going on both legally and personally for you during that time?

Glenn Neasham: I’m still working on my water company and I’m also the house daddy, taking care of the kids and driving them back and forth to school and stuff like that.

As far as the legal matter is concerned, we are currently going through the appeals process. We filed our brief a few months ago. The attorney general’s office filed for an extension on February 19 and they have been given until March 25 to get their brief filed.

PW: In your ideal scenario, what happens from there?

GN: Once the attorney general files their brief, we get a chance to reply. After that, there’s an oral argument that takes place. All of this could take anywhere from six months to a year before it’s all resolved. Our hope is that the judge sees enough reasons why this should be reversed or overturned.

PW: If it is not reversed or overturned, what happens then?

GN: Well, if it doesn’t happen at that point, then I guess it goes to the Supreme Court of the state of California, because we’re not going to give up and just let it go.

We have had discussions with Dennis Reardon out of San Francisco, who was Barry Bonds’s attorney and also Mark Geragos out of Los Angeles, who is a pretty famous attorney who really wants the case. He was willing to take a small retainer to take the case and fight it for us. But because we haven’t received a written reply from the state yet, we’re just waiting on that before we make any decisions.

PW: Is there still a possibility of jail time?

GN: I’ve done my community service. I’m still in the process of paying a fine — I think I still owe about $3,600. We make monthly payments of $172. If it’s not reversed or we don’t get it remanded for a new trial, then I qualify for the Alternative Work Program instead of going to jail. Under the Alternative Work Program, you have to pay a fee each month and then you go to work five days a week and that’s how you work your time off, rather than going into the Lake County jail.

PW: If the case were reversed, would you be able to get your license back? Is that still a possibility?

GN: Well, as far as I know. From what I’ve been told, if we get the verdict completely reversed, I should be able to get my license back.

PW: Why do you and your attorney believe it might still be reversed?

GN: There are four reasons why we think we have a good chance. The first is insufficiency of evidence to support the verdict. The second is the prosecution’s failure to produce a videotape of the victim in a timely manner, which deprived me of my right to confrontation. The third is errors relating to the admission of evidence and the instructions given to the jury. And the fourth thing is juror misconduct.

We had a juror that came forward the day after I was convicted, he called me actually, and he wanted to talk to my attorney about my case. He thought the verdict was boloney— he didn’t use that term, he used something else — and he said a certain juror stated that from their own experience with persons with dementia, it led them to believe that Schuber might not have understood the transaction.

In addition, two jurors stated that that they had made up their minds prior to trial from reading various newspaper articles published about the case. They also said they wanted to send a message to insurance agents and insurance companies to be careful when selling annuities to 83-year-old women.

And there’s one thing, too, that I want to mention that isn’t brought up much called void ab initio. The Department of Insurance in the state of California determined that Fran wasn’t mentally competent December of 2008, 10 months after the transaction. According to a couple of attorneys, the contract should have been voided immediately by the DOI and I never should have gone to trial. Dick Duff spoke with a judge in Colorado who said that if what happened to me had occurred in Colorado, they would have disbarred the prosecutor and maybe even the judge. I don’t know how much of that is reality, but those are the types of things I’ve been told.

But void ab initio means that the contract never existed. And in February of this last year, they gave Fran her money back. They gave her all of her principal plus interest minus the bonus back in cash, so the contract was void ab initio. In that case, the contract should have been voided and the DOI should have dealt with me, not the local prosecutor.

PW: What type of feedback do you hear from the insurance industry these days?

GN: I haven’t talked to any insurers but as far as agents, I keep hearing that people just don’t get it. They don’t understand how anyone could possibly prosecute. It would be like selling a car to somebody and three years later they come back and say, “You shouldn’t have sold that car to that person because you found out later on that they had dementia or Alzheimer’s.” I keep hearing that if this precedent is set, it could have a very big impact on the business world and people selling to seniors.

PW: One of the most common reactions I hear from other agents is fear that something like this might happen to them down the road.

GN: Yeah, and it could be anything. It doesn’t have to be insurance, it could be anyone who is doing business with seniors. I’m not a medical doctor. I can’t make a medical diagnosis. If I had noticed anything that day she came to see me, it would have been a much different result, I can guarantee you that.

It could have a very significant impact on the insurance industry if this thing doesn’t get reversed.

And don’t forget, it was three years after I sold the annuity that they came back and arrested me. And yes, [Fran Schuber] had some medical records stating that she possibly had dementia or Alzheimer’s, but we didn’t know anything about it. And during the trial, my assistant testified that Fran seemed very confident; not at all confused. And even a year–and-a-half later, one of my other assistants who has worked with patients like that had a conversation with her also.

As a matter of fact, during the questionnaire, I asked a lot of questions. One of them was, “How is your health?” and she said she was in good health. If she has said, “I have dementia or Alzheimer’s,” or if her boyfriend had spoken up, I’m sure we would have had a much different result. We wouldn’t have written the annuity and we would have stopped everything right there. But that never happened.

PW: And yet people do continue to take advantage of the elderly every day, which will continue to point the spotlight on those who work with seniors. Outside of ignoring this demographic altogether or extreme steps like requiring medical training for those who sell to seniors, what solutions do you suggest?

GN: I don’t know. I’ve heard people suggest that seniors should have to carry a card with them saying they’re competent, which seems ridiculous. But maybe it will have to come to that.

I read something from the district attorney that said maybe we should have a list of questions that we ask people, like, “Who’s the president of the United States?” and stuff like that to find out if they’re competent.

But again, even if that would have been done, how do we know that something like this still wouldn’t have happened? [My arrest] happened three years later. It wasn’t something that happened immediately after the sale.

In part two of the interview, Neasham responds to his critics, discusses annuity regulation and Allianz, and talks about what he would do differently if his license is reinstated.

Paul Wilson is managing editor or ProducersWEB, a Summit Business Media publication.

Source: LifeHealthPro, 28/FEB/2013.

Glenn Neasham

Glenn Neasham