Judge: Louisiana Owes $1.2M to Failed Insurer

April 23, 2004

A judge in Baton Rouge, La. awarded the owner of a failed insurance company more than $1.2 million from the state, years after two former consultants pleaded guilty to illegally handling the company’s assets.

The Associated Press reported that State District Judge Janice Clark ruled for Barbara Presley, former owner of ANA Insurance Group of Metairie. Clark said the two men in charge of the company’s liquidation tried to earn money off the company’s assets.

Jim Brown, state insurance commissioner at the time of the liquidation in the early 1990s, sued ANA to gain control of the company, said Presley’s attorney, Lewis Unglesby.

Brown put ANA into receivership and used two contractors, Richard Bickerstaff and Charles Reichman, to take control of its assets, Unglesby said.

Reichman was in charge of getting assets sold to pay off ANA debts. State law says that all assets should be turned into cash to pay off money owed, Unglesby said. But Bickerstaff was bribing Reichman and holding some of ANA’s stock, as it earned more money for his company, Unglesby said.

Had Bickerstaff and Reichman sold the stock before it crashed, ANA would not have gone bankrupt and would have had enough money to pay off its debts, Unglesby said.

Reichman was sentenced to 18 months in prison for taking bribes. He was sentenced in federal court in January 1996. Bickerstaff was sentenced to six months at a halfway house for failing to report a felony associated with the payoffs to Reichman. He was sentenced in state court in December 1995.

Brown did not know of the illegal behavior, Unglesby said.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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