An annuity nightmare continues in California: Glenn Neasham sentenced to jail, Pt. 2
By Dick Duff
Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on Glenn Neasham, the insurance agent recently sentenced to jail for selling an annuity to an 83-year-old woman. Be sure to read part one for more on Neasham's sale to Fran Schuber, the trial and the judge's sentence.
How Allianz fits into this case
Of course, the Schuber premium check, application, suitability forms and policyholders questionnaire went directly to Allianz. It reviewed everything, determined suitability, and issued a policy approved for sale in California. Presumably, nothing was wrong. Then why isn’t Allianz being punished along with Neasham?
Some readers of my earlier article and other related pieces have been highly critical of Allianz for not supporting Glenn Neasham. I can give personal testimony.
On November 28, 2011, I called Allianz President Gary Bhojwani and left a message. He didn’t return the call. Then, I reached his personal secretary and explained that I was interested in discussing the Glenn Neasham case. She was very helpful and agreed to relay my message to Mr. Bhojwani. He still didn’t return the call. Instead, I was contacted on November 30 by Paul Kelash, Corporate Communications Vice President at Allianz.
Mr. Kelash asked what I wanted Allianz to do for Glenn Neasham. I asked him to read my article. The issue was what Allianz was actually going to do for Glenn. We ended the conversation amicably, with no further communication.
On March 5, 2012, after Glen Neasham’s jail sentence, I called Allianz. Mr. Kelash returned my call. Again, he asked what I wanted Allianz to do. I suggested that again, the real question is, “How is Allianz actually going to help Mr. Neasham?”
Mr. Kelash emailed the following official Allianz statement, dated March 5, 2012:
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (“Allianz”) is aware of the California criminal action involving its former agent, Glenn Neasham. We understand that Mr. Neasham denied the allegations and requested a new trial following his conviction last fall. We have now learned that Mr. Neasham’s request for a new trial has been denied and he has been sentenced to 90 days in jail plus probation.
Allianz is not familiar with the evidence introduced at trial, or the basis for the jury’s conviction. Accordingly, Allianz Life cannot comment on the verdict or the jury’s basis for reaching its verdict. Similarly, we are also not familiar with the evidence introduced in the recent hearing that resulted in the judge’s decisions to reject Mr. Neasham’s request for a new trial, nor the basis for the judge’s sentencing determination.
The California case does, however, reinforce the need for all agents, FMOS, and carriers, especially those that do business with senior citizens, to be constantly mindful of the responsibilities to conduct business in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
Allianz is a strong, well-managed insurance carrier with excellent products. I’ve sold them, as have many of you. But I’m troubled by this company statement. Not because of what it says — it’s what it doesn’t say. Plain and simple, Allianz doesn’t say something like, “If you are charged with a crime for selling an approved issued company annuity, we’ll be there for you until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We will be there even though your E&O carrier isn’t.”
But then Allianz doesn’t have to do this. It’s their choice. It wasn’t there, however, for Glenn Neasham after he was arrested. Then, his agent’s license was cancelled.
Allianz surely had a right to cancel Neasham’s insurance license without cause or explanation. It was their choice then, as well.
Is there something Allianz could have done anyway? There is. They could have kept in close contact with Glenn, lending moral support — even legal help to his defense. They didn’t have to admit any culpability or blame. They might have filed a brief arguing for Neasham as a friend of the court — all without admitting culpability or blame.
How could they avoid such admissions? It would have been simple if it were normal Allianz policy to stand by all present and former Allianz agents accused of crimes for selling an Allianz approved issued annuity.
In other words, Allianz would always support these agents until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — even under the most onerous circumstances.
Wouldn’t this take money? It would.
What’s ahead for the senior market salesperson?
If this case isn’t overturned, there could be sinister implications. If you sell anything to seniors — especially financial products and especially in California — you could be at risk.
Let’s say you sell a senior’s home or provide life insurance or mutual funds. Later, a disgruntled family member calls the law. Suppose you are a doctor, dentist, lawyer, even a shoe salesperson who deals with elders. Same problem!
Alternately, you exclude seniors/elders from your market. That’s bad, too. You’ve discriminated because of age.
If I were you, I’d get some answers now. Ask your association for an opinion. Make friends with an elder law attorney. Check with your E&O insurer and your carriers. They need to be on top of this subject.
You may be lucky and live in a state where there are no elder abuse problems. Or, you might develop office procedures to withstand an assault. Surely, there will be some answers soon. At the moment, I see us at the system’s mercy.
What happens next to Glenn Neasham?
On March 12, 2012, Glenn checks into the probation department. On March 20th, there is a motion for appeal. On April 18th, he turns himself in to jail. Have you ever been in jail? Well, I have:
- At age 19, when I was investigated for stalking. It was a case of my mistaken identity. There was a bippy in the floor; an old peanut butter sandwich too. A bed without a mattress and a feeling of complete helplessness. Soon, they realized I wasn’t the culprit and I was released.
- In 1976, to help a lady charged with drunk driving.
- A few years ago, to frequently visit a best friend serving 60 days for something he did do.
Imagine what is about to happen to Glenn Neasham. Just imagine.
What can you do about this? If you are Judge Martin, John Hopkins, Rachel Abelson, Steve Poizner and Glenn’s attorney, get together. Ask the Governor for a reprieve. Commute the sentence. Issue a pardon. Do what’s necessary to make things right. Work it out.
If you are an insurance agent, ask your carriers for help. Could they possibly join Glenn’s defense? They might. If not, ask for reasons. This is serious; the next criminal could be you.
If you are an Allianz agent, ask the home office to put resources and muscle behind a fallen friend. They might, even now. If not, ask for reasons.
If you are a member of insurance organizations or professional groups — MDRT, CLU, CFP, etc. — ask them to support Glenn Neasham. They might. If not, ask for reasons.
If you are a lawyer (perhaps licensed in California), help pro bono with Glenn’s appeal. His is a worthy cause. It will bolster your standing when the next senior or elder case comes up. Certainly, elder abuse will become an increasingly fertile field.
If you can get this case on Fox News, CNN or 60 Minutes, we need to go there.
If you can help Glenn financially, do it. You’ll never miss the money. He welcomes contact and needs support.
If you are a well-wisher, keep Glenn in your prayers and meditations. A collective consciousness is needed. It could be the answer.
If you are a writer, now’s your chance. Get something published on this case. Take a position.
If you are an insurance carrier, tell agents you have their back. Get your lawyers to work on the case. Join Glenn’s fight.
If you are Glenn Neasham and must go to jail, stand tall. Be a ray of hope for everyone there. Leave there strengthened to the core. Write your book and movie. With a bang and not a whimper. Never give up.