DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Larry King Rooked In Life Insurance Scam?

CNN host claims unscrupulous brokerage hatched $15 million scheme

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Larry King Rooked In Life Insurance Scam?

NOVEMBER 2--Larry King claims that an unscrupulous insurance brokerage swindled him in connection with his sale of $15 million in personal life insurance policies. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court In Los Angeles, the 73-year-old television star alleges that he was targeted in a 2004 scheme hatched by the Maryland-based Meltzer Group.

In his October 22 complaint, a copy of which you'll find here, King charges that the insurance company convinced him to engage in a series of 'highly complex life insurance transactions' that resulted in the CNN host's purchase and flipping of insurance policies with an aggregate value of $15 million. In one instance cited in the lawsuit, King purchased a $10 million policy and, at Meltzer's direction, immediately sold it for a $550,000 profit. King also sold his interest in an older $5 million policy for $850,000.

The newsman alleges that Meltzer, driven by 'greed and avarice,' steered him into deals that were against his financial interests, and that the insurance broker never considered his financial condition, health, and the 'likelihood of his future uninsurability.' To his detriment, King claims, the deals disproportionately benefited Meltzer through large commission, bonus, and override payments.

The two multimillion-dollar policies on King's life are now held by third-party firms. One of those companies, Coventry Insurance, is being sued by New York State for bid-rigging and fraud in connection with its leading role in the growing 'life settlement' industry. Coventry specializes in the purchase of life insurance policies owned by the aged and ill, with the firm aiming to profit when the elderly seller dies (which is likely what they had in mind when purchasing the $5 million King policy).

King's lawsuit, which does not specify monetary damages, charges Meltzer and its principal, Alan Meltzer, with breach of fiduciary duty. (14 pages)