By Steven A. Morelli
The agent who was convicted of theft for selling an annuity to a woman with dementia was never proven to have known the client was impaired, according to the prosecutor in the case.
Dementia was a central element in the case that led to the felony theft conviction of Glenn A. Neasham, an annuity producer in northern California. He said he was not aware his 83-year-old client had dementia or Alzheimer’s when he sold her an Allianz MasterDex 10 indexed annuity in 2008. Two of his assistants also testified that they did not see signs of dementia.
The prosecutor argued that the client, Fran Schuber, had been diagnosed with dementia in 2004 and was not capable of consent in the purchase of the $175,000 annuity, which was approved in California for sale to people up to 85.
After the verdict, Lake County Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson said in a court filing that there was evidence that Neasham knew Schuber could not provide consent for the sale.
“There was sufficient evidence presented to show that Fran Schuber was not capable of consenting to the transaction in question and evidence showed that he [Neasham] knew that at the time of the evidence,” according to the prosecutor’s motion opposing Neasham’s request for a new trial.
But in an interview with InsuranceNewsNet, Abelson said she was not able to show that in court.
“Not necessarily that he knew that she had Alzheimer's or dementia, I couldn't necessarily prove that,” Abelson said. “The son told him, but we couldn't really pinpoint the time. It might have been at the transaction. Of course, I think he [Neasham] denies that he ever knew that she had this diagnosis.”
Neasham, 52, Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., does still deny that he knew Schuber had dementia. He also said that Schuber’s son, Ted, had told him that he was concerned about Fran’s health but was not specific.
“If he had mentioned that she had Alzheimer’s or dementia, I could have stopped it right there,” Neasham said. “But he didn’t. The only comment he said to me was he was concerned about his mom’s overall health. And I thought, ‘H’mm, I’m concerned about my mom’s overall health, too.’ He never said what the details were.”
When InsuranceNewsNet asked Ted Schuber in a phone interview why he did not tell Neasham about his mother’s dementia, Schuber disconnected the call.
Neasham had contacted Ted Schuber after his mother and boyfriend, Louis Jochim, made an unsolicited visit to Neasham’s office to talk about annuities to get a better return on a CD that Schuber had coming due.
Neasham said he didn’t see any issues with Schuber’s cognitive ability, although Abelson said Jochim had answered some questions for Schuber. Neasham said Schuber answered many other questions and said she wanted to defer financial matters to Jochim.
What did raise a red flag was her choice of beneficiary, which was Jochim and his daughter was contingent beneficiary.
Neasham discovered that Fran and Ted Schuber were estranged and Jochim produced a document showing that he had been named the beneficiary on the CD since 2004. So, Neasham had Fran Schuber sign a document acknowledging that she was naming Jochim the beneficiary and that she understood the terms of the annuity.
Abelson said a key piece of evidence was the concern expressed by the manager of the bank branch where Schuber had the CD.
“Basically, the bank employee told him [Neasham] not necessarily that she had dementia, but that she didn't understand the transaction and basically that she was being influenced by the boyfriend,” Abelson said. “But basically that she didn't understand what was going on. That would be my summary of what was said.”