La. Romance Writer Booked on Insurance Fraud Charges

April 7, 2005

Louisiana state police say a New Orleans-based romance writer’s $1.8 million insurance claim for two diamond-encrusted bracelets was itself a romance: an extravagant story lacking basis in fact.

Preposterous, says her attorney.

Ruth L. Goodman—better known as Meagan McKinney, author of at least 20 books including “The Fortune Hunter” and “No Choice But Surrender”—was booked recently on charges of theft, insurance fraud and filing false public records.

The claim, the bracelets, their original purchase in Switzerland and records of the $1.8 million appraisal all were real, attorney Julian Murray Jr. said.

“It was appraised by Samuel Baiser, one of the most esteemed appraisers in the world. … We have the appraisal done by him, we have the canceled check for the appraisal. He was recommended by the Smithsonian,” he said.

Murray said that as part of the insurance policy, Goodman had to keep the bracelets in a bank vault and notify Fireman’s Fund insurance company whenever she took them out. She did so in July 2002 for a trip to San Francisco, he said.

Goodman’s police report from July 2002 said the bracelets, bought at an estate sale in Switzerland, were stolen by a purse snatcher at a mall on New Orleans’ west bank. She believes the thieves followed her from the bank, Murray said.

Fireman’s Fund insurance paid up. But Goodman’s passport shows no trips to Switzerland, and a relative confirmed that Goodman never went there, said Trooper Omar Landrum, a state police spokesman.

“This thing about her never being in Switzerland is ridiculous. She’s been all over the world,” Murray said.

Landrum said that when police searched Goodman’s home, she admitted that “she has never owned any diamond bracelets.”

Ridiculous, Murray said. He said 19 officers searched Goodman’s home last June. “If she’d said that, they would have arrested her at the time. That conversation never took place.”

Dust jacket biographies describe Goodman as an avid equestrian, a caretaker of stray animals and the mother of two sons. Originally from Washington, D.C., she has a biology degree from Columbia University.

Murray said court records showing Goodman out on bond after being arrested on a $342,560 insurance fraud allegation last year are out of date.

“It’s been dismissed. The DA never accepted any charges on it,” he said. “When you make bond, they either have to charge you within 150 days or you’re released from bond.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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