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Two plead guilty in Champion case

Author(s): MARK LAMBERT Date: June 29, 1990 Section:

NEWS

Two computer programmers for defunct Champion Insurance Co., including one who donated $100,000 to Insurance Commissioner Doug Green's campaign, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges of aiding and abetting mail fraud. The two programmers, Scott D. Hullinger and Valerie M. Shean, each admitted to playing a role in helping to mislead auditors about Champion's financial stability. In a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney Raymond Lamonica, each faces no more than six months in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hullinger, 32, and Shean, 44, both were released on $10,000 unsecured bonds and were represented in the proceedings by attorney Thomas Damico. None would comment after Thursday's court appearance.

According to a stipulated factual basis read into the record by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rd Gon/ales, Hullinger and Shean programmed Champion computers to print fraudulent bank statements that hid up to $60 million in secret business that Champion was conducting.

Had auditors known about that secret business, the company would have been declared to be in poor financial health because Champion did not have enough reserves to support the extra business, Gonzales said.

Based on the false bank statements, auditors gave Champion a clean bill of health and allowed the company to write new policies and accept premiums through the mail, which is the basis of the federal mail fraud charges to which John and Naaman Richer and their families have pleaded guilty.

Shean, who has an unincorporated business named Computer Management Services, was one of several people who borrowed $100,000 from United Financial Services - an arm of Champion - and donated the money to Green. According to records, Computer Management Services also donated $100,000 to Green.

Green was indicted on Thursday by an Rast Baton Rouge Parish grand jury on charges that he took bribes as a candidate in 1987 with the intention of helping Champion survive once he was in office.

Also indicted on charges of public bribery were Green's wife, Linn, and his brother, Donald. Green has already pleaded innocent to similar federal charges filed in New Orleans.

During Thursday's federal court proceedings before U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola, don/ales stressed the defendants' "minimal role in the scheme" and said that "mitigating circumstances" should be taken into account when they arc sentenced.

was declared insolvent on June 5, 1989.

Others who have pleaded guilty to various charges include John and Naaman Eicher, Patricia Richer, Tina Eicher, Meredith Richer, Ashley Richer, Timothy Upton and Donald McCullough.

Former Champion attorney Gary O'Neill, who was charged in a bill of information filed by Lamonica, has pleaded guilty in federal court in New Orleans to charges concerning Champion.

Polozola accepted the guilty picas Thursday but deferred acceptance of the plea agreement until a presentence report is completed.

Copyright 1990 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.

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