Structured settlement broker Wesley Michael Woodyard has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas on six counts of wire fraud and four counts of engaging in a monetary transaction with property derived from specified unlawful activity. The charges allege that Woodyard defrauded ACE European Insurance Company of over $4.6 million between 2002 and 2013.Insurancenewsnet.com announced the criminal charges on it's web page and outlined much of the details that are known in this case.
Woodyard, 65, a well-known structured settlement broker, was a long time broker and associate of the parent company in this case, called Ringler Associates Incorporated, or RAI. Under RAI was a company called Ringler Associates of North Texas Incorporated, or RANT, as well as another company called Ringler Insurance Agency, and others doing insurance business on behalf of RAI. RANT would settle insurance claims mostly by selling structured settlements through annuities that were being sold through Ringler Insurance Agency. Annuities are commonly used in structured settlements to compensate personal injury victims or workers’ compensation claimants.
ACE entered the picture because of insurance policies covering United Nations employees who were killed or injured on the job. ACE used Roger Rich & Co. and Vanbreda International to handle beneficiary claims against ACE. Roger Rich and Vanbreda purchased several annuities from RANT. The indictment alleges that Woodyard’s misconduct came into play at that point. Woodyard allegedly instructed Roger Rich and Vanbreda to send funds directly to him, instead of MetLife, to purchase annuity contracts. By gaining unlawful access to ACE funds like this, Woodyard was able to bypass the normal role of the insurance company, preventing MetLife from not only issuing legitimate annuity contracts to make agreed upon payments, they also circumvented the Ringler Insurance Agency and depriving them of commissions on annuity contracts they would typically receive on legitimate sales. Woodyard would thus retain all commissions PLUS the premium which was to have been paid to Met Life. Wired funds from London are reported to total over $4.6 million.
In an effort to conceal his theft, Woodyard, according to the article in InsuranceNewsnet.com, would make occasional "lulling" payments to beneficiaries who were supposed to receive regular annuity payments, giving them the false impression that the source of the money was an insurance company. Those payments reportedly add up to over $800,000. “The indictment alleges that Woodyard used the majority of ACE funds for his own personal financial benefit, including paying for personal living expenses, gambling habits, travel expenses, and the purchase of four vehicles, including three Mercedes Benz and one Corvette, as alleged in Counts seven through ten of the indictment.”
If Woodyard is convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to as up to 160 years in prison and $2.5 million in fines.